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UNODC launches campaign to provide guidance on tools for the immediate search for disappeared persons in El Salvador

San Salvador, August 30, 2021. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the financial support of the Government of Canada, in conjunction with the “Dialogue Table: Disappearance of girls, youth and women in El Salvador: Towards the construction of responses with a gender perspective” launched the campaign “Stop disappearances”.

The launch was carried out within the framework of the commemoration of the International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearance. The campaign is aimed at encouraging the immediate reporting of cases of disappearance of persons and promoting the Urgent Action Protocol (PAU) and the Strategy for the Search of Disappeared Persons, as a mechanism to request the implementation of immediate procedures to locate a disappeared person.

“This day we launch the “Stop disappearances” campaign, in which UNODC aims to help population to know the tools that justice institutions have to undertake the search for a disappeared person immediately”, said Mónica Mendoza, head of the UNODC country office in El Salvador.

During the event, the Ombudsman for the Defense of Human Rights of El Salvador, Apolonio Tobar, emphasised that: “To speak of disappearances is to speak of the victim's pain and their families. The search is a right of the families to demand the truth. It is about the principle of equality".

In Addition, Amalia Leiva, representative of COMCAVIS-TRANS, highlighted: “Most families who are looking for a disappeared person make a call to all sectors. We are collectively stronger in the search for disappeared persons”.

“I call for all sectors of civil society, whether they work or not in matters of public security, to contribute to this campaign, sharing, disseminating, giving accurate information to people who currently have a family member that is missing, I also ask the state entities to join” said Juliana Rochac, of the Committee for Disappeared Persons by Violence in El Salvador (COFADEVI).

At the conclusion of the commemoration, the UNODC head of country office stated: “With this campaign we want to tell Salvadorians that they are not alone, that they have rights and instruments that can be apply by authorities to undertake an immediate search for their disappeared relatives. We all have a commitment to disappeared persons and their families. We all can report; we all can activate the PAU. "

Immediate report

This campaign is aimed at eliminating the myths that exist around the disappearance of persons and promoting the rights of victims, including the obligation of due diligence and the right to the truth, through the following main messages:

-          The search is immediate: Any disappeared person may be in danger. Waiting 24 or 72 hours to report a disappeared person is a myth: the report and the search must be immediate.

-          The search does not discriminate: Everyone has the right to the search without discrimination, sexist stereotypes, or prejudices.

-          The search does not stop: The victims and their families have the right to justice and truth.

The campaign has the financial support of the Government of Canada, which has allocated $ 1.6 million USD to technical cooperation on this problematic since 2017 with the implementation of UNODC in El Salvador. The campaign will be broadcast nationwide, through radio, social networks, and on the digital and information platforms of the institutions and organizations that integrate the dialogue table.