The purpose of the Day is to:
- Honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;
- Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all;
- Recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assasinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.
In 2006 the UN confirmed that people had the right to know the truth about gross human rights violations and serious violations of human rights law. Furthermore, this right was linked to governments’ duty and obligation to protect and guarantee human rights, to conduct effective investigations and to guarantee effective remedy and reparations.
In December 2010, in a bid to promote human rights, the UN proclaimed March 24 as the “International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims”. The day remembers human rights victims, including Archbishop Romero, who campaigned for human rights for many years and was shot at a church altar in 1980.