An enforced disappearance occurs when a person is arrested or abducted by the state or agents of the state, who then deny that the person is being held or conceal their whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law.
Enforced disappearances take place around in the world, including in countries such as China, Nepal, Chad, Sri Lanka and North Korea. In Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of enforced disappearances occurred during decades of civil conflict on the island. One recent example is the journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who went missing after work on Jan. 24, 2010.
In North Korea, at least 200,000 people are held in horrific conditions in Yodok and other political prison camps, most without charge or trial. The North Korean government denies the existence of these camps, despite testimony from former prisoners and satellite photos confirming their existence. The detainees have effectively “disappeared.”
Very often, people who have “disappeared” are never released and their fate remains unknown. Their families and friends may never learn what has happened to them.
But the person has not just vanished. Someone knows what has happened to them. Someone is responsible. Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law, but all too often the guilty are never brought to justice.
Join activists around the world to mark August 30 as the International Day of the Disappeared, to remember those who have disappeared and to press for justice for them and their families!
And take action now on behalf of Prageeth Eknaligoda in Sri Lanka and the prisoners in Yodok and other political prison camps in North Korea! Watch this blogsite for more actions for the disappeared, including in China, Nepal and Chad.