The Search for Victims of Enforced Disappearances: A Multidisciplinary Analysis of Current Practices

How can the search for victims of enforced disappearances be improved?

Project Summary

The search for the victims of enforced disappearance has received limited attention in both research and policy literature. What are the foundations and practical implementation of the search for victims? How do the families of victims cope and find their loved-ones in the absence of governmental action? By analysing the cases of Colombia and El Salvador this project will explore the complexity of this matter, with the aim to improve search processes and identify best and efficient practices in addressing this challenging issue.

The research questions seek to elucidate several aspects:

– How and within what legal frameworks do victims, civil society organisations (CSOs) victims’ associations, and official search mechanisms search for disappeared persons? How do these processes interact, if at all?

– How do victims and CSOs mobilize for the search as active agents, as providers of information and as receivers of information? What are the socio-political factors that hinder or facilitate this engagement?  

– How can the engagement of and with the victims contribute to the efforts of official search mechanisms and the promotion of trust and restoration of social ties within the different spheres of society? 

The research team has developed a methodology which combines an analysis of legal approaches in the relevant countries, data gathering on the subjective experiences of people affected in these cases, and rich descriptions of social practices with respect to the occurrences under examination. 

Caminos de la búsqueda

Research Team

Lisa Ott
University of Basel

Laurent Goetschel
University of Basel

Mina Rauschenbach
Principal Member
University of Lausanne

Briony Jones
Principal Member
University of Warwick

Nelson Camilo Sanches Léon
Principal Member

Ana Julia Excalante
Principal Member
Pro Busqueda

Heli Jeremias Hernandez
Principal Member
Pro Busqueda







Colombia, El Salvador

Host Institution