Human rights groups hail the imminent entry into force of the International Convention For the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
25 November 2010
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) has expressed euphoria over the imminent entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, calling it a “major advance in the global human rights protection.” The said treaty will enter into force 30 days following the deposit of the 20th instrument of ratification made by Iraq on 23 November 2010. Thus, the treaty will come into force on 23 December 2010.
According to the 2010 report of UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, this form of human rights violation is outstanding in 94 countries around the world. Iraq, like the Philippines, has outstanding cases of disappearances.
According to Ms. Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Secretary General of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the forthcoming entry into force of the Convention is a symbolic tribute to all the desaparecidos of the world who were plucked from the bosom of their families and continue to be deprived of their most basic right to life, liberty and many other basic human rights.
“The UN Convention For the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is a concrete legal measure which, when put in place, can be a powerful tool to help strengthen governments’ capacities to eradicate disappearances, punish the perpetrators and provide truth, justice, redress, reparation and historical memory to victims and their families,” Ms. Bacalso said.
Unfortunately, the Philippines where the AFAD Secretariat is based, is not yet a signatory and a party to this treaty. Human rights organizations have been lobbying the Philippine government for years to get its signature and ratification. President Benigno Aquino lll, in a meeting with representatives of AFAD and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), promised to study the international treaty and mentioned the possibility of codifying the crime of enforced disappearance through the enactment of an anti-enforced disappearance law.
To make sure that enforced disappearance be known to the public, AFAD, in cooperation with FIND, recently launched a video documentary on the disappearance of six Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) workers abducted on 14 October 2000 by members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and remain disappeared up to this day. Corporal Rodrigo Billones has been convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention and not of enforced disappearance due to the absence of an anti-enforced disappearance law.
The AFAD attributed this landmark achievement of the imminent entry into force of the treaty to the untiring work of organizations of families of the disappeared first in Latin America and later, in the rest of the world and the support of human rights groups.
“This is a fruit of the concerted labor of love principally by the families of the disappeared who have struggled to transform themselves from mere victims into human rights defenders, ” Ms. Bacalso added.
The Convention is viewed as important and necessary particularly in Asia which has the most number of cases of disappearances and has no national and regional human rights mechanism for redress.
“We hope that the Philippine government under the Aquino administration will finally fulfill its voluntary pledges before the UN Human Rights Council by acceding to this Convention without further delay and to help achieve its universal application,” she concluded.
Darwin B. Mendiola
AFAD Philippine Project Coordinator
Tel No. 4546759