US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has called on world States responsible for forced disappearances on opponents and critics to end the cruel practice and also reveal victims’ fate to loved ones who often have difficulties to find closure.
In a statement to mark International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances observed every 30 August, Blinken slammed the practice.
“The United States strongly condemns all enforced disappearances and calls on governments to facilitate the return of and provide information about all victims of enforced disappearances, and to undertake independent and transparent investigations into all such cases.
“Governments must put an end to enforced disappearances, hold accountable those responsible, reveal the fate or whereabouts of loved ones who have been disappeared, and respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons,” he said.
Blinken said his country “stands in solidarity with victims of the egregious crime of enforced disappearance and with the loved ones who live with the agony of their absence and the added pain of not knowing their whereabouts or fate.”
He added, “Every year, friends and family members vanish after being arrested, detained, or abducted by government officials or those working in concert with them or with their tacit assent.
“Those responsible refuse to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or conceal the victims’ fates and whereabouts. Human rights defenders, political activists, environmental defenders, journalists, and those who exercise their fundamental freedoms are often the targets of this egregious crime.”
The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was as established by the UN General Assembly in 2010.
Zimbabwe has a murky history of abductions and torture on government critics with the most publicised being those of journalists-turned-pro-good-governance campaigners Itai Dzamara and Jestina Mukoko.
Dzamara was abducted by suspected state security agents 2015 following a series of one-man protests he staged in Harare’s CBD against then President Robert Mugabe.
His whereabouts still remain unknown while government continues to deny any involvement in his disappearance.
Mukoko, Zimbabwe Peace Project director, was abducted and kept in communicado for several days 2008 while being accused of facilitating the training on anti-government insurgents in Botswana.
The accusations have not been proven to date.