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UN rights experts urge greater support for those fighting enforced disappearances

UN rights experts marked the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances [UN backgrounder] on Friday by calling [press release; video] for the international community to do more to support families of the victims of enforced disappearances [JURIST news archive] as well as NGO's that are fighting for those victims' rights. The experts noted that these individuals are often targets of threats and reprisals. Because of this, the group is urging states to do more to criminalize and punish this type of intimidation and persecution. In addition, a lack of funding for NGO's fighting on behalf of victims and their families has made it hard for these organizations to continue serving their communities. These experts further called upon states to renew their commitment to supporting these key organizations.

Enforced disappearances remain prevalent despite the UN's 1992 declaration [text]. In February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [JURIST report] on Mali to prosecute soldiers who participate in violence against civilians, including alleged enforced disappearance. That same day, HRW released a report [JURIST report] detailing the use of enforced disappearances by Mexican security forces. In December the president of the Philippines signed a law [JURIST report] that criminalized enforced disappearance. Last September the UN expressed concern [JURIST report] over enforced disappearances in Pakistan. In August Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] authorities in the former Yugoslavia to investigate the enforced disappearances of 14,000 people who are still unaccounted for since the civil war of the 1990s.

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