Enforced Disappearances

Enforced Disappearances:- Anenforced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person's whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law.
Enforced disappearance is frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity and fear it generates is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects society as a whole.
It has become a global problem, human rights defenders, relatives of victims, witnesses and lawyers become particular targets.Every disappearance violates a range of human rights including: • Right to security and dignity of person.
• Right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.
• Right to humane conditions of detention.
• Right to a legal personality.
• Right to a fair trial.
• Right to a family life.
• Right to life
Family and friends of people who have disappeared experience slow mental anguish. Not knowing whether their son or father or brother is still alive. Not knowing where theyare being held, or how they are being treated. Searching for the truth may put the whole family in great danger.It is women who most often lead the struggle to find out what happened in the minutes, days and years since the disappearance, and this puts them at risk of intimidation, persecution and violence.

Another important thing, when a key family member disappears, financial security can diminish or sometimes disintegrate rapidly. The disappeared person is often the family’s main breadwinner, the only one able to cultivate the crops, run the family business or worthy to do a job. This is then made even worse by some national laws that don’t let you draw a pension or receive other support without a death certificate.Not knowing if their loved one will ever return, those left behind are the ones who have to face the paradox.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearancecame into effect in 2010. It aims to prevent enforced disappearances, uncover the truth when they do happen, and make sure survivors and victims’ families receive justice and reparation. This convention is one of strongest human rights treaties ever adopted by the UN.

A report by International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) called Buried Evidence shows how over 8000 disappearances have taken place in the last two decades in Kashmir. It also highlights the numerous unmarked and unknown mass graves that have been discovered containing numerous bodies.

A critical aspect of this analysis is the gendered nature of the impact. The security forces usually detain the eldest male member of a family based on charges of “unlawful activities” which means that the wives of these individuals face the brunt of the consequences. Due to the widespread nature of this phenomenon, the term “half-widow” has come to be associated with these women. The term affirms the moral conundrum that a woman faces after the disappearance of her husband, including the process that ensues after it to know whether their husbands are alive or not which is a life-long battle. This ambiguity about the status of their husbands means that the women effectively have the existence of a widow while at the same time the acceptance of being a widow comes with giving up on the fight to continue searching for them.

The international community commemorates 30th day of August as the International Day of Disappeared. For Kashmir, this day always renewsits appeal to international community to force India to divulge information about the enforced disappearances. In J&K, since the onset of armed struggle in 1990, thousands of people have been made to disappear, never to see their families or friends again, left for dead or even tortured. This inhuman, savage & barbaric act has been committed by all the tributaries comprising Army, Paramilitary Forces, and Special Task Forces as well as counterinsurgents working under the superintendence, control & direction of the security forces. In few cases, even the militants have been accused of picking people for never to return. As per Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a non-govt. voluntary organization representing the families of victims, the total number of individuals who have disappeared involuntarily are estimated to be in the range of 10,000 people till date.

The cases of enforced disappearances have to be well documented and brought before international Human Rights courts and bodies: the European Court of Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee, and Committee against Torture, UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. These international community can impress upon Indian Government to first divulge the information about existing cases of disappeared persons, co-relate the same with unmarked mass graves and further re-examine its policies and practices in Kashmir to assess if these meet the test of the global standards of scrutiny. This process is necessary for perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions and justice rendered, including reparations to victims and their families.