Day of the Disappeared

August 30 is the International Day of the Disappeared. Victims of enforced disappearance are people who have literally disappeared; from their loved ones and their community. They go missing when state officials (or someone acting with state consent) grabs them from the street or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are. Sometimes disappearances may be committed by armed non-state actors, like armed opposition groups. And it is always a crime under international law.

These people are often never released and their fate remains unknown. Victims are frequently tortured and many are killed, or live in constant fear of being killed. They know their families have no idea where they are and that there is little chance anyone is coming to help them. Even if they escape death and are eventually released, the physical and psychological scars stay with them.

Amnesty International campaigns against enforced disappearances. We stand with the families of the disappeared in their quest to learn the fate of their loved ones. Read on to learn, and join the fight for justice for the disappeared.

Farouq Alsqidig Abdulsalam Ben Saeed

Farouq Alsqidig Abdulsalam Ben Saeed, a military prosecutor, has been forcibly disappeared since armed men in plainclothes abducted him from a Tripoli street on 26 June. His family lodged complaints with the police and prosecution authorities but received no information about his fate and whereabouts. There are credible reports that he is being held by the Deterrence Apparatus for Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime, a state-backed militia notorious for committing gross human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment, raising fears for his safety and wellbeing. Amnesty International calls on the Libyan authorities to immediately reveal his fate and whereabouts.


Republic of Congo

Enforced disappearances continue to affect families and destroy people’s lives in the Republic of Congo. No family should experience the pain of the disappearance of a family member or friend. The Republic of Congo must live up to its promise to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearance.

Together, let’s push Congolese authorities to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance. by signing this open letter to be sent to the Minister of Justice of the Republic of the Congo.


Prageeth Eknaligoda, Sri Lanka

Amnesty International has estimated that there are 60,000 – 100,000 enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka in connection with internal armed conflicts over the past 40 years. One emblematic case is the disappeared journalist/cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda. He went missing after leaving work on January 24, 2010. Two days earlier, he had published an article critical of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Despite years of police investigations, the Sri Lankan government has not accounted for his fate. Please call on the government to conduct an effective investigation and bring to justice those responsible for his disappearance.


Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang, China

Imagine if you were detained in an internment camp or sentenced to prison for years merely because of your ethnicity; traveling or living or studying abroad, the number of children you have, or your religion. That’s the reality for huge numbers of predominantly Muslim people – perhaps 1 million or more – detained in Xinjiang since 2017. Family members are often unable to obtain information about persons who have gone missing in Xinjiang and are presumed to be detained. Amnesty International has gathered evidence of crimes against humanity by Chinese authorities including imprisonment in violation of international law, torture, and persecution.


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Read more about Day of the Disappeared in the Country & Thematic Specialist blog post.

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