Farewell to our companion, the humanist and the tireless human rights defender, Louis Joinet

FIDH learned with great sadness of the death of Louis Joinet, a tireless activist for the universality of human rights, architect of the strengthening of the rule of law in France and inspiration for the development of international human rights standards.

In France, Louis Joinet was at the origin of the creation of the syndicat de la magistrature, then of the Commission nationale informatique et libertés, an institution that has become a reference on the international scene in terms of protecting media pluralism and protecting personal data.

The FIDH has known him most of all since the mid-1970s, when he conducted fact-finding missions on his behalf in the Southern Cone of the Americas, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, where he was the first to bring out lists of missing detainees from these countries.
The companionship then continued when he became a French member of the Sub-Commission on Human Rights in 1979, and throughout his thirty-three years of voluntary work as a United Nations expert.

He was the discreet mobilizer of the United Nations against the dictatorships of Chile, Honduras and Argentina, supporting the families of the disappeared, working for the release of political detainees in Bahrain, for the adoption of the first international condemnation of the repression of Tiananmen Square, or for the reconstruction of the rule of law in Haiti.
As a member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, he was one of the first international experts to visit the infamous Evin prison in Tehran - in which human rights activists and political opponents were - and unfortunately still are - imprisoned -, but also of the "prisons" of Port Hedland, Maribyrnong, Perth, Womera, Baxter and Villawood, where Australia detained its migrants, in violation of international law.

He was the architect of the development of international human rights standards with a decisive impact, in particular through the adoption of the international principles for the protection of human rights through the fight against impunity, which took the name of the "Joinet principles" and which became a reference text in periods of political transitions and peace agreement negotiations.

His mobilization at the United Nations ended with the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Throughout the three decades of his international work, he worked to fill the abyssal legal void in which victims of enforced disappearance found themselves while the crime was rampant throughout the world, without it being possible to prevent or punish it.

Not one of his field visits took place without asking FIDH for its contacts and privileged relations in the field. Our members will remember that. During these three decades, he witnessed the flourishing of the universal human rights movement, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, dictatorships in Latin American countries, and the consolidation of democracies around the world.

His action has inspired many of us, and we hope to keep the same determination that has gone through his life. His commitment, intelligence and mischief will be greatly missed. FIDH extends its condolences to his family.

Let us remember his words, those of the the poet he was, written in memory of Norma Scopise, a Uruguayan friend who disappeared through the Plan Condor.

Was I from Cordoba?
From Dili of Jakarta
Conception or Bogota
My name is Norma
I was, I am
I am no longer
I don’t know.
I don’t know anymore.
Kidnapped disappeared
With impunity
Victim of a crime
Almost perfect
Of humanity’s prejudice
To be nothing more than a shadow
Of an imprescriptible crime
Disappeared in the heavens
From a flight of death
Remained mysterious
Wandering in this Palace
From room to room
From Nation to Nation
Companion of this diaspora
Forgotten faces
Invisible among you
But present at your side
Thank you, O living ones
For not forgetting me
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