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“The truth about gross rights violations must be unveiled” – UN expert reminds States of their obligation

24 March 2020

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims – 24 March

GENEVA (24 March 2020) – Governments have an obligation to develop the legal and technical resources necessary to shed light on gross human rights violations, said a UN expert in a statement commemorating the International day for the right to the truth concerning gross human rights violations and for the dignity of victims, which is celebrated on 24 March.

"This day reminds us that every society has the inalienable right to know the full truth about past gross human rights violations in order to provide redress to the victims, learn from past experiences and prevent their recurrence," said Fabian Salvioli, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

The right to truth is often invoked in the context of grave violations and breaches of humanitarian law, such as summary executions, enforced disappearance, torture, sexual violence, and children abduction.

"I take this opportunity to remind Governments of their obligation to adopt measures to unveil the complete truth about the events surrounding gross human rights violations, their circumstances, their perpetrators, and their causes," Salvioli said.

"To achieve this, States must establish institutions, mechanisms and procedures that enable them to search and reveal the truth, such as the establishment of truth commissions, the collection of victims' testimonies, the development of genetic banks and specialized forensic laboratories, and the development of related technical capacities."

The Special Rapporteur paid tribute to all victims of violations and their relatives for their perseverance and their relentless work to learn the truth.

"Their unyielding yet peaceful and often innovative work has in numerous cases led to ground-breaking developments in the fields of truth, justice, science and law, from which whole societies have benefited. These achievements have brought us all closer to the truth.

"I commend them for their courage. I call on Governments to match these efforts and to support the victims by establishing the necessary domestic tools to ensure truth, justice and full redress for all victims," Salvioli concluded.

The annual observance of this day was chosen in memory of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered on 24 March 1980 in El Salvador.


Mr. Fabian Salvioli (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. He is a human rights lawyer and professor. Fabián Salvioli is professor of International Law and Human Rights at the School of Law of the University of La Plata. He has lectured in many countries and universities across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. Mr. Salvioli has authored several books and articles on international human rights law. He was member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee between 2009 and 2016, and its President between 2015 and 2016.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Comprising the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, Special Procedures is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9445 / [email protected])

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