Grief among relatives of disappeared persons in the context of state violence: an impossible process?

Authors

  • Manon Bourguignon University of Lausanne
  • Alice Dermitzel University of Lausanne in Switzerland
  • Muriel Katz University of Lausanne in Switzerland

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.7146/torture.v31i2.127344

Keywords:

enforced disappearance, state violence, grief, psychological impact, crime against humanity, relatives

Abstract

Introduction: During the dictatorships in Latin America, States allied by the Condor Operation used enforced disappearance as a political weapon to spread terror within society. Enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity. According to the OHCHR International Convention, the relatives of disappeared persons are recognized as direct victims. The impact of this crime on families remains a topical issue.

Methods: We conducted a narrative literature review focusing firstly on the impact of enforced disappearance on the relatives and secondly on the specificity of the grieving process for relatives of disappeared persons.

Results and discussion: The literature concerning enforced disappearance allows us to make an inventory of interconnected features explaining the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in the context of state violence. We also emphasize the extensive terminology used to qualify grief among relatives of disappeared persons and the specificity of time in this context. We highlight factors that could jeopardize the grieving process.

Conclusions: The literature clearly shows the political, social and legal issues of enforced disappearance. Relatives of a disappeared person are endlessly confronted with uncertainty, exacerbated by impunity. In this case, time does not seem to support the grieving process. On the contrary, time can reactivate the injury of loss because the disappeared is condemned to an eternally provisional status. Enforced disappearance is an endless torture for some families: its impact on the grieving process deserves further research.

References

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Published

2021-10-20

How to Cite

Bourguignon, M., Dermitzel, A., & Katz, M. (2021). Grief among relatives of disappeared persons in the context of state violence: an impossible process?. Torture Journal, 31(2), 14–33. https://doi.org/10.7146/torture.v31i2.127344