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Side event on Organized Crime and Disappearance of Persons during the X Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime

El Salvador, October 19, 2020. In the framework of the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (COP10), the side event "Organized Crime and Disappearance of Persons: Protocol for Urgent Action and Search Strategy of El Salvador" was held.

The event was held on October 14th and counted with the participation of José Vila del Castillo, Regional Representative of UNODC; Alvin Serrano Iraheta, Chief of the Specialized Unit for Cases of Disappeared Persons of the Attorney General's Office of the Republic of El Salvador; Douglas Zometa, Chief of the Central Division of Investigations of the National Civil Police of El Salvador; Silvia Campos, Deputy Attorney for the Defense of the Rights of Migrant People and Citizen Security, Attorney General's Office for the Defense of Human Rights; Dr. Pedro Martinez, Acting Chief of the Institute of Legal Medicine of El Salvador and Vida Gomez Asturias, Coordinator of the Missing Persons and Organized Crime Project of UNODC El Salvador.  
"Forced disappearance is no longer only linked to armed conflicts or dictatorships, we know that currently in many states organized crime commits real forced disappearances of people in a systematic way, in order to terrorize the population, maintain their control and ensure their impunity," said Jose Vila del Castillo, Regional Representative of UNODC.

During the event, Vida Gomez Asturias emphasized that the phenomenon of missing persons in the world is a complex issue and that, since it is linked to organized crime structures such as cartels, mafias, maras, gangs, and others, it requires the coordination and commitment of various state institutions.
In this context, Salvadoran institutions presented the strategies implemented in response to this problem, including the classification of the crime of disappearance of persons attributable to individuals and the implementation of the Protocol of Urgent Action (PAU) as a tool designed to carry out immediate search processes for missing persons, which has had a positive impact on the resolution of cases at the national level.
Likewise, the search strategy of El Salvador was presented, which contains 4 essential phases that are used as a guide to develop the process of searching for victims in a planned manner by the Attorney General's Office and the National Civil Police.
Finally, the monitoring role of the Office of the Procurator for the Defense of Human Rights was highlighted, with special emphasis on the human rights and gender focus of this instrument; and the scientific support of the Institute of Legal Medicine of El Salvador, as essential elements in the fight against the scourge.
UNODC provides technical cooperation to the Republic of El Salvador since 2017, with the financial support of the government of Canada, to develop this set of tools that have allowed to strengthen the capacity of the State to improve the response to victims of disappearances associated with organized crime.