(Adopted at Belém do Pará, on June 9,
1994, at the
states of the Organization of American States signatory to the present
the persistence of the forced disappearance of persons;
that the true meaning of American solidarity and good neighborliness can
be none other than that of consolidating in this Hemisphere, in the
framework of democratic institutions, a system of individual freedom and
social justice based on respect for essential human rights;
that the forced disappearance of persons in an affront to the conscience
of the Hemisphere and a grave and abominable offense against the inherent
dignity of the human being, and one that contradicts the principles and
purposes enshrined in the Charter of the Organization of American States;
that the forced disappearance of persons of persons violates numerous non-derogable
and essential human rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human
Rights, in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
the international protection of human rights is in the form of a
convention reinforcing or complementing the protection provided by
domestic law and is based upon the attributes of the human personality;
that the systematic practice of the forced disappearance of persons
constitutes a crime against humanity;
this Convention may help to prevent, punish, and eliminate the forced
disappearance of persons in the Hemisphere and make a decisive
contribution to the protection of human rights and the rule of law,
adopt the following Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of
Parties to this Convention undertake:
a. Not to practice, permit, or tolerate the forced disappearance of
persons, even in states of emergency or suspension of individual
b. To punish within their jurisdictions, those persons who commit
or attempt to commit the crime of forced disappearance of persons and
their accomplices and accessories;
c. To cooperate with one
another in helping to prevent, punish, and eliminate the forced
disappearance of persons;
d. To take legislative,
administrative, judicial, and any other measures necessary to comply with
the commitments undertaken in this Convention.
purposes of this Convention, forced disappearance is considered to be the
act of depriving a person or persons of his or their freedom, in whatever
way, perpetrated by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons
acting with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state,
followed by an absence of information or a refusal to acknowledge that
deprivation of freedom or to give information on the whereabouts of that
person, thereby impeding his or her recourse to the applicable legal
remedies and procedural guarantees.
Parties undertake to adopt, in accordance with their constitutional
procedures, the legislative measures that may be needed to define the
forced disappearance of persons as an offense and to impose an appropriate
punishment commensurate with its extreme gravity.
This offense shall be deemed continuous or permanent as long as the
fate or whereabouts of the victim has not been determined.
Parties may establish mitigating circumstances for persons who have
participated in acts constituting forced disappearance when they help to
cause the victim to reappear alive or provide information that sheds light
on the forced disappearance of a person.
constituting the forced disappearance of persons shall be considered
offenses in every State Party. Consequently, each State Party shall take measures to
establish its jurisdiction over such cases in the following instances:
the forced disappearance of persons or any act constituting such offense
was committed within its jurisdiction;
the accused is a national of that state;
the victim is a national of that state and that state sees fit to do so.
Party shall, moreover, take the necessary measures to establish its
jurisdiction over the crime described in this Convention when the alleged
criminal is within its territory and it does not proceed to extradite him.
does not authorize any State Party to undertake, in the territory of
another State Party, the exercise of jurisdiction or the performance of
functions that are placed within the exclusive purview of the authorities
of that other Party by its domestic law.
disappearance of persons shall not be considered a political offense for
purposes of extradition.
disappearance of persons shall be deemed to be included among the
extraditable offenses in every extradition treaty entered into between
Parties undertake to include the offense of forced disappearance as one
which is extraditable in every extradition treaty to be concluded between
them in the future.
Party that makes extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty and
receives a request for extradition from another State Party with which it
has no extradition treaty may consider this Convention as the necessary
legal basis for extradition with respect to the offense of forced
which do not make extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty
shall recognize such offense as extraditable, subject to the conditions
imposed by the law of the requested state.
shall be subject to the provisions set forth in the constitution and other
laws of the request state.
When a State
Party does not grant the extradition, the case shall be submitted to its
competent authorities as if the offense had been committed within its
jurisdiction, for the purposes of investigation and when appropriate, for
criminal action, in accordance with its national law.
Any decision adopted by these authorities shall be communicated to
the state that has requested the extradition.
prosecution for the forced disappearance of persons and the penalty
judicially imposed on its perpetrator shall not be subject to statutes of
there should be a norm of a fundamental character preventing application
of the stipulation contained in the previous paragraph, the period of
limitation shall be equal to that which applies to the gravest crime in
the domestic laws of the corresponding State Party.
The defense of
due obedience to superior orders or instructions that stipulate,
authorize, or encourage forced disappearance shall not be admitted.
All persons who receive such orders have the right and duty not to
Parties shall ensure that the training of public law-enforcement personnel
or officials includes the necessary education on the offense of forced
disappearance of persons.
to be responsible for the acts constituting the offense of forced
disappearance of persons may be tried only in the competent jurisdictions
of ordinary law in each state, to the exclusion of all other special
jurisdictions, particularly military jurisdictions.
constituting forced disappearance shall not be deemed to have been
committed in the course of military duties.
immunities, or special dispensations shall not be admitted in such trials,
without prejudice to the provisions set forth in the Vienna Convention on
In no case may
exceptional circumstances such as a state of war, the threat of war,
internal political instability, or any other public emergency be invoked
to justify the forced disappearance of persons.
In such cases, the right to expeditious and effective judicial
procedures and recourse shall be retained as a means of determining the
whereabouts or state of health of a person who has been deprived of
freedom, or of identifying the official who ordered or carried out such
deprivation of freedom.
such procedures or recourse, and in keeping with applicable domestic law,
the competent judicial authorities shall have free and immediate access to
all detention centers and to each of their units, and to all places where
there is reason to believe the disappeared person might be found including
places that are subject to military jurisdiction.
deprived of liberty shall be held in an officially recognized place of
detention and be brought before a competent judicial authority without
delay, in accordance with applicable domestic law.
Parties shall establish and maintain official up-to-date registries of
their detainees and, in accordance with their domestic law, shall make
them available to relatives, judges, attorneys, any other person having a
legitimate interest, and other authorities.
Parties shall give each other mutual assistance in the search for,
identification, location, and return of minors who have been removed to
another state or detained therein as a consequence of the forced
disappearance of their parents or guardians.
purposes of this Convention, the processing of petitions or communications
presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alleging the
forced disappearance of persons shall be subject to the procedures
established in the American Convention on Human Rights and to the Statue
and Regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and to
the Statute and Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights, including the provisions on precautionary measures.
prejudice to the provisions of the preceding article, when the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights receives a petition or
communication regarding an alleged forced disappearance, its Executive
Secretariat shall urgently and confidentially address the respective
government, and shall request that government to provide as soon as
possible information as to the whereabouts of the allegedly disappeared
person together with any other information it considers pertinent, and
such request shall be without prejudice as to the admissibility of the
None of the
provisions of this Convention shall be interpreted as limiting other
bilateral or multilateral treaties or other agreements signed by the
shall not apply to the international armed conflicts governed by the 1949
Geneva Conventions and their Protocols, concerning protection of wounded,
sick, and shipwrecked members of the armed forces; and prisoners of war
and civilians in time of war.
is open for signature by the member states of the Organization of American
is subject to ratification. The
instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
shall be open to accession by any other state.
The instruments of accession shall be deposited with the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
The states may
express reservations with respect to this Convention when adopting,
signing, ratifying or acceding to it, unless such reservations are
incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention and as long as
they refer to one or more specific provisions.
shall enter into force for the ratifying states on the thirtieth day from
the date of deposit of the second instrument of ratification.
For each state
ratifying or acceding to the Convention after the second instrument of
ratification has been deposited, the Convention shall enter into force on
the thirtieth day from the date on which that state deposited its
instrument of ratification or accession.
shall remain in force indefinitely, buy may be denounced by any State
Party. The instrument of
denunciation shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the
Organization of American States. The
Convention shall cease to be in effect for the denouncing state and shall
remain in force for the other States Parties one year from the date of
deposit of the instrument of denunciation.
instrument of this Convention, the Spanish, English, Portuguese, and
French texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the
General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, which shall
forward certified copies thereof to the United Nations Secretariat, for
registration and publication, in accordance with Article 102 of the
Charter of the United Nations. The
General Secretariat of the Organization of American States shall notify
member states of the Organization and states acceding to the Convention of
the signatures and deposit of instruments of ratification, accession or
denunciation, as well as of any reservations that may be expressed.
BASIC DOCUMENTS PERTAINING TO HUMAN RIGHTS