“Even today I think, maybe today, tomorrow, they will return my son to me [...] Every night he appears in my sleep and during the day I cry all the time [...] That is not a life anymore. For me everything came to a halt. I don’t live; I just walk over the earth.”
Bilat Akhmatkhanova, mother of Artur Akhamatkhanov, who was subject to enforced disappearance in Grozny, capital of the Chechen Republic, in 2003. He was 22 years old.
What are enforced disappearances?
Enforced disappearance takes place when a person is arrested, detained, abducted or otherwise deprived of their liberty by government officials or by organized groups or private individuals whose actions are condoned by the government in some way.
This is followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned, placing them outside the protection of the law. Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law, prohibited by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, among other international standards.
Enforced disappearance is a dehumanizing practice which has long-lasting and damaging consequences for both the disappeared person and his or her families and loved ones. It is a particularly cruel human rights abuse because it is of a continuous nature, particularly for families and loved ones of the victim who often wait for years to learn the truth about the victim’s fate.
Photo: Stop Enforced Disappearances © Amnesty International