Peru: Regional conference on missing persons
28-05-2003 News Release 03/63
A regional conference on persons reported missing in connection with situations of armed conflict or internal violence is under way in Lima, where it opened on 28 May.
It is attended by representatives of 18 countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean; representatives of nine organizations in the region working to resolve the problem of missing persons are also taking part as observers.
The conference, held on the initiative of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was organized jointly with the ICRC. It is hoped that it will produce the tools necessary to boost ongoing efforts to find out what happened to people who are unaccounted for. The opening ceremony was chaired by the ICRC Head of Operations for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Peruvian Minister for Foreign Aff airs.
The aims of the meeting are to draw the attention of the participants and of the public at large to the importance of helping the families of the missing and to devise effective measures to prevent disappearances. It is also intended to create a forum for discussion and an exchange of ideas on the follow-up and implementation, on the regional level, of the observations and recommendations of the Conference entitled “The missing: Action to resolve the problem of people unaccounted for as a result of armed conflict or internal violence and to assist their families”, which was organized by the ICRC and held in Geneva from 19 to 21 February 2003.
The Lima conference will study the issue of the missing by means of four workshops chaired by experts of international standing. Two of the workshops will focus on the legal provisions designed to prevent disappearances and on ways of enabling families to exercise their right to know. The other two will examine basic considerations and practices relating to the exhumation and identification of human remains, and will discuss family support mechanisms.
Cases of disappearances resulting from armed conflict and internal violence around the world are counted in the hundreds of thousands. In the former Yugoslavia the fate of 22,000 missing persons is still unknown, and in Rwa nda at least 100,000 cases remain unresolved. As for South America, some sources estimate that in Peru at least 6,000 people are unaccounted for.
All over the world, parents, brothers, sisters, spouses and children are searching desperately for relatives who have disappeared as a result of armed conflict or internal violence. Relieving their anguish and pain is a vital need. They all have the right to know what has happened to their loved ones.
Further information: Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58
Philippe Tempestini, Dafne Martos, Marisela Silva,
ICRC Lima, tel. ++511 460 27 19
See also: Para que no te olvides - Missing persons campaign in Peru