5 Things You Should Know About Enforced Disappearances

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Activists hold lighted candles during a vigil on International Day of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka, where some 12,000 complaints of enforced disappearances have been submitted to the U.N. since the 1980s (Photo Credit: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images).

Activists hold lighted candles during a vigil on International Day of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka, where some 12,000 complaints of enforced disappearances have been submitted to the U.N. since the 1980s (Photo Credit: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images).

Every year in dozens of countries around the world, thousands of men, women and children are detained by state authorities for no reason, never to be seen again. They are the “disappeared.” In 2012 alone, Amnesty International documented such cases in 31 countries.

Here are five facts you should know on August 30, International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

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If They Are Not Guilty, Who Committed the War Crimes?

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Around 800 people belonging to ethnic minorities were abducted and killed by the KLA© Amnesty International

Around 800 people belonging to ethnic minorities were abducted and killed by the KLA© Amnesty International

The acquittal yesterday of three high-ranking members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after a retrial on war crimes charges has prompted Amnesty International to reiterate its call for justice for all of the victims in the 1998-9 Kosovo war, and their relatives.

Ex-prime minister and former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj, Lahi Brahimaj, his uncle, and a fellow KLA commander, and deputy commander Idriz Balaj, were found not guilty of a joint criminal enterprise to mistreat Kosovo Serbs, Roma and Egyptians, and Albanians perceived to be collaborators with the Serbian authorities, or otherwise not supporters of the KLA.


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Modern Warfare 2

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The New York Times reported this morning that in the past two years the US military has killed more than 400 militants in 80 drone strikes for the loss of only 20 civilian casualties.

Pentagon sources credit the increased sophistication of modern weapons systems and intelligence collection platforms for this record of success. This is a bold claim and one that Amnesty International has been trying to investigate on the ground in a very hostile operational environment.

At present, reliable facts are hard to come by. However, we can say with the confidence derived from hard-earned experience that these numbers are unlikely to stand up to scrutiny. A similar conflict in which airborne platforms have been used by a sophisticated modern military to target insurgent and other armed groups is the second Intifada which engulfed the Gaza Strip in September 2000.

Between September 2000 and September 2002 Israel’s intelligence-led policy of targeted killing claimed the lives of approximately eighty Palestinian militants and fifty innocent bystanders.

In one well-documented incident in July 2002 the Israelis dropped a laser-guided bomb on a house occupied by Hamas official Salah Shahada. Shahada was killed along with thirteen others, ten of whom were children.

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