UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged countries to fulfill their obligations to prevent and prosecute cases of enforced disappearance on International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

The UN chief made the appeal in his message to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, honouring victims of this serious human rights violation, observed on Monday.

Together, we can and we must end all enforced disappearances,” he said. 

A global problem

Enforced disappearance refers to the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by agents of the state, or those acting with state authorization or support, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Once largely the product of military dictatorships, it has become a global problem, according to the United Nations, with hundreds of thousands of people “disappeared” in more than 80 countries.

Impunity remains widespread.

While strictly prohibited under international human rights law, Mr. Guterres said enforced disappearance continues to be used across the world as a method of repression, terror, and stifling dissent.

“Paradoxically, it is sometimes used under the pretext of countering crime or terrorism.

Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition, and human rights defenders are particularly at risk,” he added, accoring UN News.

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