The African Commission Expresses Concerns Over Enforced Disappearances
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On August 30th, 2022, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Working Group on the Death Penalty, Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Africa, joined the international community in commemorating the International Day for Victims of Enforced Disappearances. (African Commission, 2022) Enforced disappearance is considered more than a human rights violation, being it frequently used as a authoritarian strategy to spread terror, especially as a means of political repression against oppenents and human rights activists. This practice not only is harmful for the victims, their families and loved ones, but it also violates numerous interlinked fundamental rights and freedoms, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. When committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population, enforced disappearance qualifies as a crime against humanity pursuant both the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. (United Nations, n.d.; UN News, 2022)
Enforced disappearances is a recurrent violation in Africa, particularly used as a strategy of repression during conflicts, civil unrest, counter-terrorism activities and states of emergency. According to the African Commission, the underreporting of cases along with many States lacking the criminalization of such a violation, make enforced disappearances difficult to be effectively investigated, prosecuted, and prevented leaving survivors and families without reparation and justice. Noting that only a few States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights have ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, during its 71st ordinary session the African Commission, through its Working Group, adopted the the Guidelines on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in Africa, the first continental human rights legal instrument setting standards to facilitate the effective implementation of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter and other legal instruments. Expressing its support for survivors of enforced disappearance and their families, the African Commission reaffirms its commitment in the prevention and eradication against such a cruel practice, calling on any Member States and the whole international community to strengthen their efforts on the matter. (African Commission, 2022)
Sources and Further Readings:
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Déclaration sur la Journée internationale des victimes de disparitions forcées, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights News, retrieved on August 31st, 2022, from https://www.achpr.org/fr_news/viewdetail?id=236.
United Nations (n.d.), International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, 30 August, United Nations, retrieved on August 31st, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/observances/victims-enforced-disappearance.
United Nations (August 30, 2022), Enforced disappearance a serious human rights violation, used to spread terror, UN News, retrieved on August 31st, 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1125802.