Enforced Disappearances

Enforced disappearance consists of a kidnapping, carried out by agents of the State or organized groups of individuals who act with State support or tolerance, in which the victim “disappears”. Authorities neither accept responsibility for the dead, nor account for the whereabouts of the victim. Petitions of habeas corpus, or other legal mechanisms designated to safeguard the liberty and integrity of citizens remain ineffective. Enforced Disappearance constitutes a grave threat to the right to life and violates fundamental human rights:

  • The Right to Liberty and the Security of the Person.
  • The Right to Recognize as a person before law.
  • The Right to legal Defense.
  • The Right not to be Subjected to Torture.

The objective of enforced disappearance is not simply the victim’s capture and subsequent maltreatment, which often occurs in the absence of legal guarantees. It creates a state of uncertainty and terror both in the family of the victim and in the society as a whole. Uncertainty exists because people do not know what to do or where to turn. Terror is caused by the unknown yet undoubtedly terrible fate of the victim, and the realization that anyone can be subjected to enforced disappearance and any motive may be used to justify the disappearance. Enforced disappearance paralyzes opposition activities by individuals as well as by society. The victim of enforced disappearance is neither a simple political prisoner nor a dead person, although many times their corpses are later found.