Enforced disappearance (also known as forced disappearance) is a term that has been floating around the UK in recent years. Enforced disappearance is when state official or people from state officials kidnap people from the streets or their homes but claim they have no involvement.
Victims of enforced disappearance include lawyers, key witnesses and human rights defenders (people deemed as a treat to state official plans and strategies). The purpose of this act is to cause fear in the society. Once a military doctrine, this practice has now been adopted by many countries as a tactic to cause fear among families and the society.
When it comes to this practice, the fate of remains unknown. According Amnesty (an international charity) “Victims are frequently tortured and many are killed, or live in constant fear of being killed. They know their families have no idea where they are and that there is little chance anyone is coming to help them. Even if they escape death and are eventually released, the physical and psychological scars stay with them”.
Families affected by this are often left in long term disappear due to the unknown. The unsettling feeling of not knowing if a loved one is dead or alive means that affected families are unable to grieve or move on.
Victims are often placed outside the protection of the law putting them at high risk. The lack of access to legal support can paralyse them emotionally and mentally causing them to be defenseless. In cases of enforced disappearance, victims are also at high risk of human rights violations.
At present countries known for enforced disappearance includes, Zimbabwe, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, Argentina and Bangladesh.
How does this affect the UK?
The UK is a diverse country with people from all over the world (including countries listed above) living in it. It is possible that family members of victims of forced disappearance live in the UK which has an influence on support service to help them manage their distress. Support for such acts has to be targeted to meet the needs of the families affected.
It is very important and will be beneficial for the UK to consider enforced disappearance as an act that could be adopted by some communities in the UK (with some adaptations) as a way of controlling individual alongside other practices such as Honour Based Abuse. Consideration for this opens up the opportunity for discussion and preventative methods which is essential to the well-being of all its citizens. Enforced disappearance is a crime and a breach of human rights law.
For support with enforced disappearance, please make contact with Crime Stoppers UK or (0800 555 111) Amnesty (44-20-74135500)
References and Further Reading