Adopted by General Assembly resolution 61/177 on 12 January 2007, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enfoced Disappearence (CPED), entered into force at 23 December 2010. Designed in response to the growing international awareness of enforced disappearances, this human rights treaty entails an absolute prohibition thereof. Article 2 CPED defines enforced disappearance as:
“…the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”
Whereas the preamble already refers to a victim’s rights to justice, reparation and the truth about the circumstances of an enforced disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person, the right to a remedy for victims of enforced disappearance is laid down in Article 8(2) and reflected in some of the treaty’s other provisions. The CPED uses an expansive definition of “victim” by including – in addition to the person who is subjected to enforced disappearance – any other individual that has suffered harm as the direct result of an enforced disappearance (Article 24(1)).
As a form of remedy, Article 20(2) grants persons with a legitimate interest (e.g. victim’s counsel, his family and relatives) the right to have immediate and effective access to justice in order to obtain information on the victim’s whereabouts, health, place of detention and to be admitted to the place of detention. The text explicitly determines that this right may not be suspended or restricted in any circumstances.
The CPED is the first binding instrument to explicitly codify the right to truth arising upon the occurrence of an enforced disappearance (article 24(2)). That article further addresses victims’ rights to compensation for moral as well as material damages. Reparations may also take the form of restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.