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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Enforced Disappearance in Latin America: Taking Stock

Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 9:30am


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a virtual hearing on responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America.   

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.”

The widespread, massive and systematic use of enforced disappearance as a form of political repression in Latin America beginning in the 1970s has meant that associations of victims and family members as well as human rights organizations from that region have played a key role in developing responses – legal, social, and political, and domestic, regional and international. Yet, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres observed on August 30, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, new cases of enforced disappearance occur almost daily while “the excruciating pain of old cases is still acute.”

Witnesses will discuss responses to enforced disappearance drawing on experiences from Colombia, Central America and Mexico. These encompass initiatives to search for victims and preserve their memory, strategies to pursue accountability domestically and internationally, the creation of new institutional mechanisms such as official search commissions, and efforts to implement regional and international conventions. Witnesses will also address the challenges that remain and offer recommendations as to how the U.S. Congress can best support civil society and governmental initiatives on this issue.

This is a virtual hearing. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members of Congress who wish to participate remotely may do so via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available on the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-805-6308 (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi at 202-225-3765 (for Co-Chair Smith). 

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern,
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith,
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel 1

  • Federico Andreu Guzmán, Former High Level Advisor, Search Unit for Missing Persons in Colombia, and Expert in Enforced Disappearance
    Written testimony
  • Leonor Arteaga Rubio, Program Director, Due Process of Law Foundation, and Commissioner, National Commission for the Search of Persons Disappeared during the armed conflict in El Salvador (CONABÚSQUEDA) 
    Written testimony
  • Grace Fernandez, Member of BÚSCAME and the Citizen Council of the National Search System, Mexico
    Written testimony
  • Fredy Peccerelli, Director, Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG)
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record


116th Congress