[Statement] Protecting Women from Enforced Disappearance -AFAD/FIND/ICAED

Protecting Women from Enforced Disappearance

AFAD FIND ICAEDWomen everywhere are deeply affected by the global scourge of enforced disappearance. They are the wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters who are in the abysmal state of uncertainty and in perpetual search for their disappeared loved ones. They are often left behind to bear the socio-economic and psycho-emotional brunt of enforced disappearance. In cases when women are made to disappear, theyare particularly at great risk of sexual and other forms of violence.

Many of them have been able to transform their personal anguish and sufferings into courage and determination to sustain the arduous struggle for justice. For a long time, the Philippines lacked the specific mechanisms that protect individuals including women and children from enforced disappearance. But the 16 years of uphill battle of victims’ families and human rights advocates to have enforced disappearance criminalized has finally borne fruit in the recent passage of Republic Act No. 10353 or the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012. This special penal law officially recognizes not only the gravity of the offense but also the distinct sufferings endured by the victims and their families, especially by women and children.

The Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012 is without doubt, a major advancement in human rights legislation. Nevertheless,the law is only as good as its implementation. While the speedy crafting and joint promulgation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) by appropriate government agencies and organizations of families sought to expedite the Act’s implementation, a strong political will is required to ensure the full realization of the law’s objectives.

While a law defines mandates, translating them into concrete actions lies in the collective will of all stakeholders. It is for this reason that we organized a forum-workshop on the “Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353” with the support of the Embassy of Canada and the UP Asian Center on 6 March, 2013 at the GT Toyota UP Asian Center Auditorium. The forum brought together various stakeholders not only to instill the letter and spirit of the law in their hearts and minds, but most importantly to generate collective action that will ensure the effectiveness of the law, more particularly in strengthening accountability and combating impunity.

We also hope that the new law will facilitate the Philippines’ signing and accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to complement and reinforce the domestic protection mechanisms.

As we commemorate the International Women’s Day today, we pay tribute to all women who have indefatigably struggled and risked their lives to make our world free from enforced disappearance and other forms of violence. Ending this odious offense will greatly contribute to the liberation of all women in the world from discrimination and violence.

Joint Statement
International Women’s Day
8 March 2013

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