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  • Garifuna woman holds a sign that reads

    Garifuna woman holds a sign that reads "You took them alive, we want them alive" in the community Triunfo de la Cruz, Atlantico Deparment, Honduras. July 22, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 29 August 2020
Opinion

In Latin and Central America, forced disappearances became an issue of global concern during the right-wing dictatorships in the region between the 1970s and 1980s.

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances will be marked this Sunday within the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations, (UN) the pandemic has created new “concerning contexts” for enforced disappearances. 

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On August 27, 2020, The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances issued a statement demanding countries continue to search for the victims, despite the pandemic. 

"States around the world must still act urgently to prevent and investigate enforced disappearances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The search for the victims must continue without delay,” 

According to the organization, the world is particularly alarmed about allegations of enforced disappearances received in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation is all the more worrying as the search and investigation into enforced disappearances are frequently being put on hold because of the restrictions introduced as a result of the pandemic.

"Victims are often being forgotten, and families are suffering, not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Search and investigation are continuing obligations that must be carried out, with health precautions being taken as necessary,” UN assured.

Enforced disappearances take place all around the world. In Latin and Central America, forced disappearances became an issue of global concern during the right-wing dictatorships in the region between the 1970s and 1980s.

In Argentina, under dictator General Jorge Rafael Videla, some 30,000 people were forcefully disappeared. Likewise, the Chilean dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet disappeared and tortured close to 60,000 people, making it one of the most brutal regimes in the region. 

Today, social media users in Honduras have made a call for citizens around the world to join their call for justice for the Garifuna people with the hashtags #YouTookThemAlive #StopWithTheGenocideonGarifunaPeople. 

Saturday marked 40 days since the disappearance of four members of the Garifuna People. The citizens were forcibly abducted by people wearing Police Investigation Department uniforms on July 18, 2020, in Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras. 

Various human rights organizations, including the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, have demanded a swift investigation on the kidnapping and have said authorities are complacent toward rising violence against the Garifuna people.

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