11 August 2014
GENEVA (Issued as received) – A group of United Nations human rights experts* today urged Governments around the world to fully support the families of disappeared people and organizations working on their behalf in the search for their loved ones.
The appeal comes after the reunion of Estela de Carlotto, president of the Argentinian human rights organisation Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, with her grandson after a 36-year search. He was born in 1978 to Ms. de Carlotto’s daughter, Laura, who was disappeared by the military regime. He was taken away as a baby from his mother who was subsequently killed, and his identity has been substituted all these years.
“What happened to Ms. de Carlotto should be of hope and encouragement for all the families across the globe who tirelessly continue the search for their loved ones,” the experts said. “However, it is essential that families of disappeared and organizations working on their behalf be fully supported by States that should assume their duty to secure the rights for truth, justice and reparation.”
“This achievement is the result of the indefatigable work of Ms.de Carlotto and her organization, who have been instrumental in the creation of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances in 1980, and have worked closely with it ever since,” said the Working Group experts.
“Events like this reinforce our strong commitment and resolve to continue our work to solve each case of enforced disappearance before us,” the Working Group added. “The enforced disappearance of a child is an extreme form of violence against children, and an exacerbation of the violation of the rights protected by the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.”
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances also noted that Ms. de Carlotto and her organization were one of the main actors who pushed for the draft and adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
“Ms. de Carlotto, like many other women, channeled her personal tragedy in a campaign for the hundreds of thousands who have disappeared. Therefore, it is highly symbolical that her courage and tireless fight have finally led to the identification of her grandson,” the Committee’s experts added.
“It is now our duty to intensify our efforts to promote the ratification and implementation of the Convention by all States, as a preventive tool against the repetition of such tragedies,” the Committee’s experts stressed.
“This is one step towards the truth in Argentina. Getting the chance of meeting her grand-child, knowing where he had been all these years, who he became as an adult, is also, as said by Ms. de Carlotto, ‘a reparation’”, said Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
"The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo mobilized for the establishment of a Data Bank that allows anyone who had doubts about his or her identity to check whether their DNA matches samples of the family members of victims of killing or disappearance. The importance of such mechanisms was demonstrated yet again in this case. Other countries should establish similar procedures”, he added.
The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, Morad El-Shazly, also expressed his satisfaction for this event recalling that the Fund supports Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo in its activities aimed to assist young adults in search of their identity. These include DNA testing to feed Argentina’s National Genetic Data Bank and psychological assistance to recovered children and their relatives.
“Thousands of cases of enforced disappearance continue to be unresolved. Behind each is a personal story,” the human rights experts noted. “We should never forget that throughout the world there are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, siblings and friends who are still waiting to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.”
(*) The experts: The Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; the Committee on Enforced Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff; the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, Morad El-Shazly.
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Working Group on Disappearance: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx
Committee on Enforced Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/CEDIndex.aspx
Transitional justice: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/TruthJusticeReparation/Pages/Index.aspx
Fund for Victims of Torture: www.ohchr.org/torturefund
Read the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/ConventionCED.aspx
Check the Working Group's General Comment on children and enforced disappearances
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