PBI accompanies the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: PBI-Mexico accompanies the International Day march in Chihuahua.

On August 30, Peace Brigades International marked the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

The United Nations has explained: “Enforced disappearances is a crime which is generally committed by State agents through abduction and arrest, with victims often held in secret detention… Some are subjected to torture and summary execution, while their fate is kept secret, from families and society at large.”

Regrettably, Canada has not yet signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

The Convention has been ratified by Honduras (2008), Mexico (2008) and Colombia (2012) as well as France (2008), Germany (2009), Spain (2009), Belgium (2011), Netherlands (2011), Switzerland (2016), Norway (2019) and numerous other countries listed here.

PBI-Mexico tweeted: “#PBI accompanies the march in #Chihuahua today, the International Day of #Forced Disappearance, where relatives and organizations defending #human rights demand justice.”

Twitter photo from PBI-Mexico.

PBI-Kenya tweeted: “Today we mark the International Day for Victims of Enforced Disappearances, in #Kayole #Kenya.”

Photo: PBI-Kenya at Kayole 2 Social Hall for conversation on ending enforced disappearances. Photo by Missing Voices.

PBI-Honduras tweeted: “Within the framework of the National Day of the Detained and Disappeared and the International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearance, we want to highlight the important work of the organizations that work in the search for justice for the victims and their families.”

“I neither forget nor forgive”

Progress in Colombia

And PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Today, in the framework of the commemoration of the day against forced disappearance, the State accepts the competence of the UN committee of #Forced disappearances. Recognition of the great effort of human rights organizations and victims for justice and against impunity in Colombia.”

The United Nations further explains: “From the Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, we celebrate the historic progress of the State of Colombia in accepting the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and examine communications from persons claiming to be victims of violations of the Convention provided for in Article 31. This decision contributes to the guarantee of the rights of victims of enforced disappearance and to the protection of all persons against this crime.”

Twitter photo from PBI-Colombia.

The Canadian Embassy in Colombia also tweeted: “On this International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, we stand in solidarity with those who continue to search for their loved ones, for truth and justice.”

Why hasn’t Canada signed the Convention?

Speculation as to why Canada has not signed the Convention includes the enforced disappearance of Indigenous children through the “residential school” system.

CBS has reported: “More than 150,000 children from hundreds of indigenous communities across Canada were forcibly taken from their parents by the government and sent to what were called Residential Schools.”

As of 2021, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg, which holds the records gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), has documented 4,118 children who died at residential schools.

In September 2021, CBC reported that searches of at least nine former residential schools have found over 1,300 potential unmarked burials and that “ground-penetrating radar searches are in progress or investigations have been launched at approximately 17 former residential school sites, and discussions or consultations are ongoing at another 21 sites.”

In May 2022, CBC reported: “Preliminary information obtained through ground-penetrating radar in May 2021 showed there could be as many as 200 unmarked children’s burial sites near the [Kamloops Indian Residential School], though specialist Sarah Beaulieu later said she suspects the number could be much higher as only a small portion of the site was surveyed.”

“The Scream”: Painting by Cree artist Kent Monkman of state agents forcibly taking Indigenous children from their families.

On August 31 of this year, CBC reported: “Lawyers representing 325 First Nations — more than half of all recognized First Nations in the country —  are seeking to subpoena [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller to take the witness stand via Zoom and face questions on the sincerity of residential school-related statements they’ve made in the past.”

This past June, the Assembly of First Nations also noted: “AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald called for a United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur to investigate crimes and human rights violations associated with Residential Institutions at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 25, 2022. UN Special Rapporteur Francisco Cali Tzay has told media he will visit Canada but is not mandated to investigate crimes related to Residential Institutions.”

We continue to follow this.

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