30 August – International Day of the Disappeared
The International Day of the Disappeared is
an annual commemoration day created to draw attention to the fate of
individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their
relatives and/or legal representatives. The impulse for the day came from the Latin
American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared (Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones
de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos, or FEDEFAM), an NGO founded in 1981 in Costa Rica as an
association of local and regional groups actively working against secret
imprisonment and forced disappearances in a number of Latin-American countries.
Work on secret imprisonment is an important part of the activities for a number of international bodies and organizations in the fields of human rights activism and humanitarian aid, including for example Amnesty International (AI), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The International Day of the Disappeared is an opportunity to highlight these institutions' work, increase public awareness, and to call for donations and volunteers.
According to FEDEFAM, the authorities of Haiti and Guatemala started practicing extra-judicial detentions and subsequent killings back in 1960-ies. Disappearances of political opponents became usual in Chile during Pinochet's rule. According to the organization, 90,000 people went missing in Latin America starting from 1960-ies. At present, the worst situation is observed in Columbia.
Thanks to efforts of human rights organizations, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance as resolution 47/133 on 18 December 1992. Enforced Disappearance was declared a crime by the Constitutions of a number of countries. In 2006 the General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This document obliges the authorities to regard kidnappings as crimes and ensure the due investigation and punishment of perpetrators. It also outlaws the incommunicado detention and requires timely informing relatives and lawyers about the location of detainees and their location. The document was signed by more than 80 states. However, Belarus didn't join this document.
There are no military conflicts in Belarus. However, four people – politicians Viktar Hanchar and Yury Zakharanka, businessman Anatol Krasouski and TV cameraman Zmitser Zavadski – disappeared in strange circumstances. The authorities failed to ensure the due investigation into their cases, despite the demands of the UN Human Rights Committee, PACE and OSCE. Former and present high-rank officers of law-enforcement agencies, including Uladzimir Navumau, Dzmitry Paulichenka, Viktar Sheiman and Yury Sivakou, are banned entrance to the EU and the US because of suspicions in the involvement in these forced disappearances.