Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Track Impunity

Imagine: internal armed conflict breaks out. Your son is taken away from your home by a band of armed men, never to be seen again. The band of armed men fall under the responsibility of your own government. Five years later peace breaks out, but your son does not return. Imagine, five years later he is still not back, but you see one of the band members walk around your village. The government, the same government who is responsible for those who took your son, claims not to know where he is. He has disappeared.Imagine.

Some people do not need much imagination to understand the feeling that I would like to convey above. To them it has happened.
According to the European Court of Human Rights, the situation that you must be in as a next of kin amounts to degrading treatment; so when a government is engaged in enforced disappearances, it does not only violate the right to life and the right to a fair trail of the individual they let disappear, but they also violate the right to family life and the prohibition of torture with regard to the family members who stay behind.

And as we all know, violations of rights will usually end before a court. Even if the violators are states.

Currently I am working for a legal organization who makes this (and a lot of other things as well) happen- a Non- Governmental Organization called TRIAL. They indeed try to find the missing, try to get information about their whereabouts and try to get governments to give information on the lost loved-ones. People most effected and affected by war are usually the poorest, the least-developed, the ones without voices or contacts. However, becoming a victim of war can be bad luck of the draw- that is what I understood from the stories of my family in the 1940s and from my friends in BiH in the 1990s. It can happen to anyone. Even more so, for enforced disappearances you do not need a conflict. TRIAL recognizes that, and the lawyers who work there as well. They work for little money, next to their regular jobs as lawyers, to give voices, to find, to counter the bad luck of the draw and to Track Impunity. Always.

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