The World Congress on Psychosocial Work in Exhumation Processes, Forced Disappearance, Justice and Truth being held in Colombia seeks to adopt minimum standards and a guide for worldwide use in resolving problems regarding the tragedy of forced disappearances. Morris Tidball-Binz, an ICRC forensic expert, discusses what the conference aims to achieve.
Families of missing persons suffer. Would you please explain how forced disappearances affect them?
Families of missing people suffer greatly owing to the uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones who have disappeared during armed conflicts or internal violence. Those who are unable to restore contact with or discover the fate of their loved ones live in limbo, often not sure if their loved ones are dead or alive. They may spend everything they have or their entire lives searching in vain. Even if they suspect a family member is dead, relatives may not be able to mourn properly, claim their inheritance, sell their property or otherwise resume their lives until they know what has happened.
The needs of the families differ depending on their circumstances, education and economic situation. However most families agree on their priorities: they want an answer regarding the fate of the missing and they want economic support in the absence of breadwinners.
Do you think families have a role to play in the process of searching for, recovering and identifying the remains of victims of disappearances?
For many years there was a tendency to see families as passive recipients of assistance and support. This is not the case. Indeed, concerned families and communities have been at the forefront of many of the advances achieved in the prevention and investigation of the missing, including the application of forensic sciences for the recovery and identification of the disappeared.
In addition, families are key to providing essential information for assisting an investigation. When excluded, families are likely to be further traumatized which should be prevented in all circumstances.
Entire article located here ... http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/interview/missing-inter...
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