On August 30th each year the world is reminded that hundreds of thousands of people in at least 85 countries don’t know where their loved ones are, or even whether they are alive or dead. For the victims of enforced disappearance and their families, every day is the Day of the Disappeared. The unrelenting uncertainty and anguish of not knowing the truth of what has happened to their family member is a recognized form of torture for both the disappeared and their families. The crime of enforced disappearance cuts off the disappeared from any access to legal representation or judicial remedies – they are placed “outside all protection of the law.” “Rampant” global impunity for enforced disappearance has led the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, and UN bodies to call on all countries to ratify or accede to the Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances (Convention or ICPPED). Catherine Morris brings much needed attention to the fact that of the UN’s 193 countries, only 72 have ratified or acceded to the Convention. Canada and the United States (US) are not yet among them. The unrelenting uncertainty and anguish of not knowing the truth of what has happened to their family member is a recognized form of torture for both the disappeared and their families. The crime of enforced disappearance cuts off the disappeared from any access to legal representation or judicial remedies – they are placed “outside all protection of the law.”
Catherine Morris and Rebekah Smith of Peacemakers Trust Canada conducted extensive research on disproportionate violence against Indigenous persons in Canada that includes uncounted disappearances of Indigenous children, women, and men. Canada’s decades of failure to prevent and halt disappearances forms part of a long litany of grave international human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples. Continued reports of officially hushed-up violence lead to increasingly clarion allegations of genocide. The authors’ work on documenting enforced disappearance, failure to investigate and prosecute crimes against indigenous people has parallel application to the habitual failure of U.S. authorities to address crimes perpetrated against Native Americans.
Going Grey and Facing Age Discrimination: Moving Towards an International Treaty on the Rights of Older Persons
For more than two decades attorney Catherine Morris has conducted research, education, and advocacy in the field of international human rights. Her article illuminates an issue that impacts vast numbers of people regardless of nationality. Concerns for the well being of older persons are rarely framed as human rights issues entrenched in age discrimination. This may now be changing after the shocking revelations of maltreatment and excess deaths of older persons in Canadian care homes in 2020. In the United States, the CDC continues to report that 90% percentage of COVID-19 deaths compromise those 65 and older. In both Canada and the U.S. the epicenter of the mortality burden of Covid is among those referred to as “elderly.” Morris states the abuses exposed in 2020 were predictable consequences of Canada’s longstanding neglect of older persons’ fundamental rights. Decades of efforts by Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) along with international CSOs, and UN human rights bodies may now be gaining traction in a drive for a United Nations (UN) treaty to spell out and guarantee the fundamental human rights of older persons around the world. But efforts may continue to stall until leaders in Canada and other countries come to grips with the root cause of the abuses – endemic ageism.