Missing Syndrome

GENEVA, December 23, 2010 (AFP) – An international accord aimed at preventing abductions — a fate affecting tens of thousands of people throughout the world — came into force Thursday, the United Nations said. “In Latin America, where a number of countries are parties to the convention, thousands of families still await information on the fate of loved ones who have disappeared and justice for the perpetrators.” The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which was launched by the UN General Assembly in 2006, became law following its ratification last month by Iraq and Brazil.

This took the number of ratifications past the required 20 countries, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

The convention obliges the 87 signatory states to punish government officials or bodies linked to the state responsible for forced disappearances and compensate the victims.

If such abductions are generalised or systematic they become crimes against humanity.

Human rights groups welcomed the move.

“It is an important achievement in the struggle against a cause of indescribable fear and sorrow for hundreds of thousands of people w