According to article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the concept of “enforced disappearance” is defined 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“.
In response to its concern about the rise in cases of enforced disappearance, the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/65/209, chose to proclaim 30 August as the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, in view of the customary celebration of the event by many countries around the world on that date.
For civil society actors, 30 August marks a day of awareness-raising on the subject of enforced disappearances, which remain a recurrent practice in certain States such as China.
Faced with this situation, the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger has joined other non-governmental organisations in a joint press release to denounce this practice, which is contrary to international human rights law, and of which Gao Zhinsheng, a Chinese human rights lawyer who has been missing since 13 August 2017, was a victim. His case, far from being isolated, demonstrates the systemic nature of the practice of enforced disappearance in China, which is not a party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.