A Crime That Never Ends

Last week, I focused this blog on the issue of enforced disappearance. I received this response from an advocate working on the front lines for victims’ families, and wanted to share it with you. I’ve added some links in case you want to learn more:

I loved this week’s posts on enforced disappearance. I am a Canadian student currently serving as an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow with the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF).

My role with EPAF is to visibilize the issue of the more than 15,000 Peruvians that were disappeared during the period of political violence  (1980-2000). As in other Latin American countries, enforced disappearance was widely used in Peru during that period.

There’s an angle in your articles that you could have deepened: the fact that enforced disappearance is a crime that never ends – or not until the remains are found. It is a crime that is perpetually re-committed for as long as those responsible refuse to reveal the whereabouts of the bodies or the truth over what they did to them. Thus, the fact that a country no longer practices enforced disappearance does not mean that the nightmare is over for the relatives of the victims.

In Peru, the majority of these people were from historically marginalized populations – poor Quechua-speaking peasants living in the Andes – and as opposed to countries such as Argentina and Chile, the State has been completely unwilling to address the situation (for example, by elaborating a national plan for the search and identification of the disappeared). Just to give you an idea, there are over 4,500 identified mass graves dotting the countryside.

We at EPAF recently launched a project called “Not One but Fifteen Thousand Voices” to make the stories of individual relatives of the missing available to the public. The relatives tell their story in their own words – often in their original Quechua – to a backdrop of photographs taken by American photographer Jonathan Moller. We believe this initiative is an excellent way to convey the demands and necessities of the relatives.

I realize your week on enforced disappearance is over, but we need all the help we can get!

– Catherine Binet

(Catherine also notes that forensic teams around the world are some of the main organizations fighting back against enforced disappearance. So cool.)


EPAF is a Lima-based NGO that works on behalf of the relatives of Peru’s disappeared to promote the search for their loved ones, gain access to justice, and improve the conditions affecting their political and economic development.

Read more posts on enforced disappearance.

(Photo by Gvillemin)

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