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The Dimension and Purposes of Enforced Disappearance

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a general overview of the purposes and variations related to the practice of enforced disappearance so as to understand the nature of the offence and its legal implications. Within the most common pattern of the practice, there is also a special variation: the enforced disappearance of children, either born during the captivity of their disappeared mothers or abducted separately. In certain countries, especially, but not only, in Colombia, enforced disappearances are today carried out mainly by paramilitary groups, acting with the connivance or tolerance of the State. The chapter focuses on information relevant to anti-terrorism purposes, the diffusion of enforced disappearance, the role of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and international actions for the prevention and suppression of enforced disappearances. The contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGO) to the international protection of human rights is increasingly being recognized in the United Nations system.

Keywords: anti-terrorism; Colombia; enforced disappearance; human rights; non-governmental organizations (NGO); Truth and Reconciliation Commissions; United Nations system



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