Dictatorships Use Enforced Disappearance against Dissidents

On August 30 of each year, the world celebrates the Day of Combating Enforced Disappearance. This is to remind the world of the danger of enforced disappearance on societies and their freedoms.

In many countries of the world, enforced disappearance has become the best way to suppress dissent and silencing the free voices.

Victims of enforced disappearance are people who have disappeared away from their loved ones and their community. They disappear when state officials (or anyone acting with state approval) arrest them from the street or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to reveal their whereabouts.

Enforced disappearance violates the right to security and dignity of the person, the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to humane conditions of detention, the right to legal personality, the right to a fair trial, the right to establish a family, and the right to life (in the event of the death of a victim of enforced disappearance).

The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the UN warned about enforced disappearance, saying that it has become a strategy to spread terror in the entire society. Meanwhile, many questions are raised about it, as it leaves wide implications for the human rights system as a whole, as its effects extend to more than one right.

Guterres said, “Enforced disappearance has become a global problem, and is no longer restricted to a specific region of the world. Whereas in the past this phenomenon was mainly the product of military dictatorships, today enforced disappearance can occur in complex conditions of internal conflict, or is used, in particular, as a means of political pressure on opponents. “.

He added, “The use of enforced disappearance by states in counter-terrorism activities as a pretext to breach their obligations, as well as the broad exemption from punishment for the crime, is very worrying.” He said that “impunity comes to compound the severity of the suffering and pain.”

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, hundreds of thousands of people have disappeared during conflict or periods of repression in at least 85 countries around the world. Nearly 100,000 people have been in Syria alone since 2011. In Iraq, thousands of Iraqis were lost during 3 years of grinding war between the regular forces and ISIS militants between 2014 and 2017, in the Sunni-majority areas in the northwest of the country.

In Egypt, enforced disappearance has become the “first evil”, as “all those who fall into the hands of the security services are subjected to it, in addition to those who appear at later times in various cases and those who are physically liquidated”.

The Egyptian authorities have invented a new method to terrorize its citizens and try to curb the opposition, as they have recently adopted the methodology of mass disappearances of more than one family member.

In Bangladesh, enforced disappearances have become a “feature” of the rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid since 2009, with disappearances being used as a tool to limit freedom of expression and direct criticism. More than 86 political activists, businessmen and students members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been counted as missing during the past decade.

Enforced disappearance is not limited to third world countries, as hundreds of enforced disappearances have been reported in the United States of America, the Russian Federation and many European countries that have become kidnapping their opponents from their territories and secretly transporting them to their countries, as happened with many Saudi and Emirati princes.

The international community has set out to develop a legal framework to combat enforced disappearance, and has adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, in addition to other crimes against humanity. This convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2006, and it entered into force on December 23, 2010.

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