International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

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2024 Date30 August 2024
2025 Date30 August 2025

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is a global event aimed at commemorating the victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances, while raising awareness about the ongoing issues related to this heinous act. This observance seeks to put an end to enforced disappearances, prevent forced disappearances and bring justice to the victims and their families. Enforced disappearance is recognized as a grave violation of human rights. It often involves arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by state actors, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person's fate or whereabouts, consequently placing the person beyond the protection of the law.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2006. It later selected August 30 as the observance day in 2011, to honour the work of the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared (FEDEFAM). In India, enforced disappearances have been reported in conflict-affected regions such as Jammu and Kashmir, where thousands of people have been subjected to enforced disappearances since the 1990s. Additionally, counter-insurgency measures in Northeast India and other regions have led to human rights abuses, with numerous cases of enforced disappearances yet to be fully investigated.

On International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, various events and activities are organized in India to raise awareness regarding the issue and provide support to affected families. These may include seminars, workshops, vigils, and other public gatherings aimed at disseminating information and promoting the rights of the disappeared and their families. This day reiterates the importance of India’s responsibility in addressing the issue and implementing effective measures to prevent enforced disappearances, ensuring justice for past victims and eliminating the scope for such acts in the future. The observance is held annually on August 30, serving as a crucial platform to advocate for the rights and protection of the victims and their families in India and across the globe.

Facts about Victims of Enforced Disappearances

  • The UN Working Group has recorded more than 59,000 cases of enforced disappearances across 110 countries since 1980, including 651 new cases originating in 30 countries in its most recent annual report.
  • More than 46,000 cases of enforced disappearances remain unresolved.
  • One of the cruelest aspects of enforced disappearances is the prolonged uncertainty experienced by the families of the disappeared, who often spend years or even decades not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead.
  • Human rights organizations estimate that between 8,000 to 10,000 people have gone missing in Jammu and Kashmir in the past three decades.
  • The state of Punjab experienced a high number of enforced disappearances during the militancy period of the 1980s and 1990s. It is estimated that at least 25,000 people went missing during this time. Many were reportedly killed in extrajudicial executions and their bodies were either secretly cremated or dumped in rivers.

Top things to do in India for this observance

  • Watch the UN's International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearances video. It shows how hundreds of thousands of people have vanished from over 80 countries around the world.
  • Learn how to stand up for the disappeared. The UN's campaign details how to spot a person who may be the victim of an abduction or kidnapping. It advises what to do should you witness such an event.
  • Visit the Khudai Khidmatgar Memorial in Delhi, dedicated to the memory of the activists who disappeared during the Indian Emergency in the 1970s.
  • Educate yourself about the history of enforced disappearances in India, including the Emergency period in the 1970s and the ongoing conflict in Kashmir.

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