Our Voices

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

On this International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, we pause to reflect upon the countless individuals across the globe who have endured the agony inflicted by State authorities and those affiliated with them. In these cases, the uncertainty surrounding the location of a beloved family member is an intentional method of inflicting profound pain – a distress akin to a form of psychological torture inflicted upon the families of those who have been disappeared. Furthermore, this tactic often serves as a chilling deterrent within society, particularly in cases where the missing person held an influential role within a movement or social cause. Consequently, their enforced disappearance takes on a bigger impact and becomes a grim exemplary punishment for those around them.

With every occurrence of this heinous crime, we are compelled to remember that behind the statistics lie the personal stories of sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, fathers and mothers, friends and cherished lives. This inherent human connection serves as a poignant reminder of the profound loss that resonates far beyond the numbers.

In its unwavering commitment to human rights, RFK Human Rights, in collaboration with our partner Foro Penal, has been at the forefront of shedding light on the alarming use of enforced disappearance as a tool for political repression in Venezuela., and on the importance of remembering the stories of the disappeared.

We are also working on the Agapito Pérez Lucas et al. v. Guatemala case before the Inter-American system. In 1989, during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala, uniformed military personnel forcibly removed human rights defenders Agapito Pérez Lucas, Nicolás Mateo, Macario Pú Chivalán, and Luis Ruiz Luis from their homes, as a result of their work documenting human rights violations against Guatemala’s indigenous population and contributing to the liberation of peasants who had been forcibly recruited by the Civil Defense Committees during the war.

Enforced disappearance is not exclusive to a region but a weapon for the powerful to oppress the vulnerable, silence human rights advocates, and dismantle the efforts and gains made in building a more just and equitable society Indeed, this crime against humanity is still in practice in most regions of the world.

As we observe this day, we remember that most people do not vanish – they are forcibly taken from us. RFK Human Rights stands in solidarity with the victims of enforced disappearance across the globe. We stand with their families and our institutional partners in the unyielding campaign against impunity for this abhorrent crime.