In 2022-2023, Crude Accountability, in cooperation with members of the Turkmenistan Working Group and the Working Group on the Fight Against Torture of the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP), initiated a project to research the issue of enforced disappearances in the region of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). 

With generous funding from Austausch, e.V., a German human rights NGO, the project focuses on the issue of enforced disappearances within the context of the OSCE December 2020 decision, which was adopted by consensus at the Ministerial Council Meeting in Tirana, Albania in December 2020, for an expanded OSCE commitment on torture prevention. This commitment includes the fight against enforced disappearances and incommunicado detention. 

Following this important breakthrough, the two working groups of the CSP decided to work together to gather critical information about enforced disappearances in the OSCE region. As initially conceived, the project was mostly historical in its orientation, but as the events of 2022 and 2023 have unfolded, we have also gathered information about the current state of affairs. Focusing on the Balkans, Belarus, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine, the project draws attention to the ongoing horrors of enforced disappearances in the context of conflict and repression. The Balkans, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Ukraine provide examples of enforced disappearances in conflict zones—both as a tool of regimes and armies, and as a product of war. Belarus, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are examples of regimes that use enforced disappearance as a tool of repression, even in peacetime. However, the use of enforced disappearances in all seven regions is one that is related to repression, as our policy papers demonstrate.

For Crude Accountability and our partners in the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, this project places Turkmenistan in the context of other regimes that use enforced disappearances as a tool of repression, fear, and control. Addressing this gross human rights violation throughout the OSCE region is a task that is not only required, but urgent. As members of the CSP, we work in solidarity with our partners, recognizing that the problem of enforced disappearances is not only confined to one country, but is a critical concern throughout the OSCE region.

Click below to read the policy papers on enforced disappearances from our experts and contributors.

Enforced disappearances and torture in Ukraine as a consequence of Russian aggression

by Mikhail Savva

Enforced disappearances in Belarus

by Arve Hansen

Enforced disappearances in Chechnya, Russia

by Oleg Orlov and Alexander Cherkasov

Enforced Disappearances during the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

by Mushegh Yekmalyan

Enforced Disappearances in the Balkans

by Jelena Krstić

Enforced Disappearances in Turkmenistan

by Jeffrey Dunn

Enforced Disappearances in Tajikistan

by Steve Swerdlow
and USC Human Rights Advocacy Group