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International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

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International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances: the IACHR, the United Nations Committee against Enforced Disappearances, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances call on States to adopt and implement search and investigation strategies within the framework of a policy comprehensive on disappearances

Geneva / Washington, DC- Within the framework of the International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearances, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the United Nations Committee against Forced Disappearances (CED) and the Working Group on Forced Disappearances or involuntary (GTDFI) call on the States of the region to adopt the necessary measures for the construction and implementation of a comprehensive policy on forced disappearance that includes the search for disappeared persons and the investigation of their disappearance among its priorities. Likewise, they urge the States to ensure the coordination and cooperation of all State institutions and entities whose participation is necessary to guarantee an effective, prompt and exhaustive search and investigation.

In recent months, the IACHR, the CED, and the GTDFI have noted progress and good practices on the part of different states in the region in the design of comprehensive search and investigation strategies. Specifically, they recognize the adoption of the National Plans to Search for Disappeared Persons in Peru, in 2021; and in Colombia, in 2020 and 2021, as programmatic tools of public search policy and whose content was the product of a participatory process in which different actors such as victims, civil society organizations, state authorities and international organizations intervened. Also noteworthy is the adoption in Mexico of the Homologated Search Protocol, in 2020; and the Additional Protocol for the Search of Girls, Boys and Adolescents, in 2021; as normative instruments that establish mechanisms, differentiated procedures and methods for the search and location of missing persons and missing children, respectively; as well as the participatory construction of the Extraordinary Forensic Identification Mechanism as part of the human identification policy and the creation of decentralized centers for forensic identification such as the Regional Center for Human Identification of Coahuila.

Despite the foregoing, challenges persist in terms of inter-institutional coordination that could compromise the search and effective location of the disappeared persons, as well as the investigation of their disappearance. Therefore, they call on the States of the region to eliminate all legal and factual obstacles that impede said inter-institutional coordination, as well as to ensure a clear and coordinated search and investigation strategy in which all state bodies provide the necessary assistance in the framework of its powers. In particular, they reiterate the obligation to ensure that the criminal search and investigation are interrelated and mutually reinforcing, and they recall the importance of establishing articulation mechanisms and procedures,

The IACHR, the CED, and the GTDFI agree that the search and investigation obligations must materialize through an articulated set of legislative, administrative, judicial, and any other measures that aim to prevent and put an end to forced disappearance. For these reasons, they underline the importance of adopting a comprehensive public policy on forced disappearance that allows the clarification of cases that occurred in the past and recently, ensuring the search for disappeared persons, the identification and punishment of the perpetrators, the prevention of these acts, as well as the adoption of protection measures for the victims, their relatives, those who accompany them and those who participate in the search and investigation and other measures of non-repetition. In particular,

In addition to the foregoing, the IACHR, the CED, and the GTDFI call on the States to ensure that the construction and implementation of public policies on search and investigation are the result of an open, deliberative, and broadly participatory process involving victims. , civil society organizations and any other person with experience and willingness to cooperate. On this issue, they recall that international and inter-American standards have indicated the importance of the principles of social participation and access to information as a guarantee of transparency and accountability in the construction of public policies with a human rights approach.

Finally, the IACHR, the CED, and the GTDFI urge the States of the American region that have not yet done so to ratify the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, as well as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Forced Disappearance , as an official expression of its commitment to prevent and eradicate this aberrant practice. They also call for the application of the Guiding Principles for the Search for Disappeared Persons of the United Nations Committee against Forced Disappearance and the recommendations of the Working Group on norms and public policies for the effective investigation of enforced disappearances .

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate arises from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on this matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

The CED is the body of independent experts that oversees the application of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by its States parties. The Convention was conceived to protect all persons from enforced disappearance, prevent the repetition of this crime, and provide support to victims and guidance to States regarding the measures they must adopt to promote the rights guaranteed in the Convention and to promote collaboration and assistance between States.

The mandate of the GTDFI is to help the families of disappeared persons to find out the fate and whereabouts of such persons. The Working Group essentially acts as a channel of communication between the families of disappeared persons and governments, with a view to solving cases of disappearance. With the adoption in 1992 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by the General Assembly, the Working Group has been tasked with monitoring the progress of States in meeting their obligations under the Declaration, and providing assistance to promote its implementation.