Tag Archives: International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

[Event] “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE,” a mini film expo

Dear Friends,

Greetings of peace!

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in cooperation with the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives cordially invite you to “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE,” a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance. The second film showing will be held on 22 March 2012 at 1:00 -5:00 PM, Rooms 9 and 10, RVM Bldg. in the House of Representatives.

Slated for screening are: “Dukot”, a movie of Joel Lamangan and Boni Ilagan which was nearly banned by Movies and Televisions Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) in 2008 for depicting the grim reality of the plight of the disappeared persons in the Philippines in recent years, and “Finding Ernesto,” a documentary film on the search for children who disappeared during the civil war in El Salvador. The driving force behind this quest is the late Father Jon de Cortina, a Jesuit priest from Spain who came to El Salvador in 1955. When he discovered after the war that there were many disappeared children in the area around his village, he formed the group Pro-Busqueda (Association in Search of Missing Children) to trace the children and reconnect them to their families.

The film expo aims to promote human rights awareness more particularly of the right against enforced disappearance and to urge the Philippine government to enact an anti-enforced disappearance law and to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

We also take this opportunity to commemorate the martyrdom of El Salvador’s Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero which prompted the UN General Assiembly to adopt a resolution on 21 December 2010 declairinging March 24 as the Interantional Day of the Right to Truth regarding gross human rights violations and dignity of vicitms.

We shall truly appreciate it if you would join us in this activity and share with us your views through an open discussion following each film showing.

We look forward to your invaluable presence and active participation in this collective endeavor. We know that you are one with us in making human rights a reality for all.

Thank you and warmest regards.

Sincerely yours,

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO                                     NILDA L. SEVILLA
Secretary General                                                            Co-Chairperson
AFAD                                                                                  FIND

[Regional/Solidarity] Enforced Disappearance in Thailand must end Now! -AFAD

AFAD Statement on
8th Anniversary of Somchai Neelaphaijit’s Disappearance
12 March 2012

Enforced Disappearance in Thailand must end Now!

Eight years have passed but truth and justice for the disappeared prominent Thai human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelaphaijit still remain very elusive. Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit was forcibly disappeared on 12 March 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand. At the time of his disappearance, Mr. Somchai was working on torture cases committed by Thai security officers in the southern province of Thailand, which was then placed under martial law.

Despite efforts of Atty. Neelaphaijit’s family to bring his case at the national and international attention and to put those responsible to the bar of justice, only one of the five police officers who were arrested and prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the disappearance was convicted to a three-year imprisonment in January 2006. What added insult to injury was the verdict of Appeal Court on 11 March 2011, which suddenly reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance for lack of sufficient evidence and ruled that the wife and children of Somchai Neelaphaijit are not eligible to exercise their rights as the aggrieved party. This decision is nothing but a denial of his family’s right to uncover the truth and to seek justice.

Although the Appeal Court’s ruling is now under review of the Supreme Court and the Department of Special Investigation have continued the investigation to gather more evidence to make it a murder case, it is evident that the Thai justice system remains ineffective in securing accountability and ending impunity. The difficulties of gathering evidence and procedural mechanisms indicate the need for a domestic legislation defining and penalizing the crime of enforced disappearance and providing reparations and rehabilitation to victims and their families.

Enforced or involuntary disappearance remains one of the major human rights concerns in Thailand and in many Asian countries today. Based on the 2011 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the first thematic UN body created in 1982 to monitor the incidences of enforced disappearances worldwide, it is happening in 83 countries. Many of these cases occur in almost 30 countries of Asia, a continent that has the highest number of cases submitted to the UNWGEID. Worse still, Asia lacks a strong regional mechanism for redress and is bereft of domestic laws penalizing disappearance as a separate and autonomous criminal offense.

The Justice for Peace Foundation (JOF) of Thailand has documented over 90 cases of enforced disappearance that took place between 1991 and 2010. The actual number of cases, though, may even be more as many disappearance cases are still underreported and undocumented. This shows that enforced or disappearances are not only difficult to investigate and prosecute. They persist to recur especially because perpetrators of this horrendous offense can easily escape from the criminal accountability.

In case of enforced disappearance, not only the direct victims suffer but their families, too. Their suffering is compounded by the fear and uncertainty created by the lack of resolution of these cases and the constant harassment and threats to their lives.

Today, as we join the family, friends and colleagues of Atty. Somchai Neelaphaijit in remembering his life and works in defending the rights of others, we also take this opportunity to call on the Thai government to immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.  While the Thai government has already took a positive step in addressing this abominable practice by signing of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 9 January 2012, it still needs to ratify this new treaty and to pass domestic laws that will concretely implement its provisions. Corollary to this is the imperative for the Thai government to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

Doing so will not only exact the injustice committed against Somchai’s and his family but for the whole Thai nation to finally find peace and stability through respect of human rights.

Justice for Atty. Somchair Neelaphaijit!  Justice for all desaparecidos in Thailand and the rest of the world!

Signed by:

MUGIYANTO
Chairperson

MARY AILEEN DIEZ-BACALSO
Secretary-General

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

Telefax: 00-632-4546759
Mobile: (63)917-792-4058
Website: http://www.afad-online.org

 

[Press Release] House Okays Bill against Enforced Disappearance on 2nd Reading -FIND

House Okays Bill against Enforced Disappearance on 2nd Reading

“Finally we are getting somewhere in our campaign to make the phenomenon of enforced disappearance a societal concern,” sighs Joey Faustino, Secretary General of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND).

Last Monday, 05 March 2012, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill No. 98, “An Act Defining and Penalizing Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance.”

Former Minority House Leader and Honorary Chairperson of FIND, Cong. Edcel C. Lagman is the principal author of HB No. 98 which defines enforced or involuntary disappearance as the “arrest, detention, abduction, or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such person outside the protection of the law”.

Thirty-three legislators co-authored the consolidated bill, namely; Lorenzo R. Tañada III, Walden Bello, Kaka J. Bag-ao, Salvador H. Escudero III, Neri Colmenares, Teddy A. Casiño, Rafael V. Mariano, Luzviminda V. Ilagan, Raymond V. Palatino, Emmi A. De Jesus, Antonio L Tinio, Rufus B. Rodriguez, Niel C. Tupas, Jr., Rene L. Relampagos, Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Fatima Aliah Q. Dimaporo, Erico B. Aumentado, Solaiman C. Pangandaman, Maria Evita R. Arago, Jeci A. Lapus, Emil L. Ong, Danilo Ramon S. Fernandez, Ma. Amelita A.Calimbas-Villarosa, Irvin M. Alcala, Justin Marc S. Chipeco, Pablo P. Garcia, Maria Milagros E. Habana-Magsaysay, Winston “Winnie” Castelo, Rodel M. Batocabe, Antonio C. Alvarez, Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr., Rodolfo C. Fariñas, and Romero Federico ‘Miro’ S. Quimbo.

“We are elated over this development. Definitely, this is a something we have been expecting a long time ago, especially for the families who were victimized and their loved ones who are still missing to this day,” said FIND Deputy-Secretary General, Ms. Wilma Q. Tizon when asked to comment on the news.

“Looking back, it was during the 10th Congress in 1996 when the first version of the proposed legislation –HB 8253 “An Act Penalizing Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and for other Purposes was filed by Rep. Bonifacio Gillego and co-authored by Congressmen Gregorio Andolana and Edgar Lara. Since then, we have been continuously pursuing of having a law that would protect us and hopefully put an end to enforced disappearance,” she added.

House Bill No. 98 provides that the right against enforced disappearance is absolute and non-derogable under any circumstances including, political instability, threat of war, state of war or any public emergency.

The bill is comprehensive such that it covers penal sanctions ranging from arresto mayor to reclusion perpetua depending on the gravity of the offense. It considers enforced disappearance as continuing not until the whereabouts of the disappeared person have been determined with certainty.

It also provides compensation, restitution and rehabilitation of the victims and preventive suspension or summary dismissal of perpetrators including liability of commanding officers or equivalent senior officials for failure to prevent, discontinue or uncover enforced disappearance.

Six other national bills got the nod of the chamber on second reading and approved 21 national bills on third and final reading including 40 local measures and four House Joint Resolutions.

“This proves that House members are fully focused on their legislative duties. Credit goes to the collective leadership and the members of the majority as well as to the critical cooperation of the Minority. We continue to work silently but consistently,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said.

[Event] “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE”, a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in cooperation with the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives invite you to “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE”, a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance. The film showing will be held on 01 March 2012 in Rooms 1&2, RVM Bldg, House of Representatives, 1:00 -4:00 PM.

Slated for screening are: “Unsilenced”, a documentary film on the enforced disappearance of six sub-contractual workers of a paper factory in Agusan del Sur and “Rendition”, a 2007 true-to-life drama film on extraordinary rendition directed by Gavin Hood and starring Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Jake Gyllenhaal among others.

The film expo aims to promote human rights awareness more particularly of the right against enforced disappearance and to urge the Philippine government to enact an anti-enforced disappearance law and to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

An open discussion will follow after each film showing.

Come join in this collective endeavor and be one with us in making human rights a reality for all.

[Event] KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE”, a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in cooperation with the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives cordially invite you to “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE”, a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance. The film showing will be held on 01 March 2012 in Rooms 1&2, RVM Bldg, House of Representatives, 1:00 -4:00 PM.

 

Slated for screening are: “Unsilenced”, a documentary film on the enforced disappearance of six subcontractual workers of a paper factory in Agusan del Sur and “Rendition”, a 2007 true-to-life drama film on extraordinary rendition directed by Gavin Hood and starring Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Jake Gyllenhaal among others.

The film expo aims to promote human rights awareness more particularly of the right against enforced disappearance and to urge the Philippine government to enact an anti-enforced disappearance law and to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

[Statement] On the first anniversary of the anti-disappearance treaty, ICAED expresses its concerns over the lack of new ratifications

On the first anniversary of the anti-disappearance treaty,
ICAED expresses its concerns
over the lack of new ratifications

  23 December 2011 – The International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) commemorates today the first anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the Convention).  The new Committee on Enforced Disappearances (the Committee) held its first session in November 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. The ICAED members who participated in  a meeting between NGOs and the new Committee has expressed its willingness to cooperate with civil society.

The ICAED is deeply concerned about the continuing rise of enforced disappearances cases in many parts of the world as its member-organizations reported during its November 2011 international conference in Geneva. Families and relatives of the disappeared continue to suffer devastating effects of the enforced disappearance. Ironically, only ten more states have ratified the Convention since its entry into force in December 2010. Furthermore, of the 30 States Parties, only 12 have recognized the competence of the Committee to receive and examine both individual and inter-State communications.

The ICAED reiterates its call on all States to ratify and fully implement the Convention and to recognize the competence of the CED pursuant to Articles 31 and 32 of the Convention systematically included among the criteria applied by the Universal Periodic Review.  Moreover, the ICAED calls on all States to adopt domestic legislation to criminalize enforced disappearance and ensure the prevention and punishment of this crime.

The ICAED recalls that the families of victims of disappeared from Latin America were the first advocates for a convention against enforced disappearance, during FEDEFAM’s Congress in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1991.  As the year 2011 draws to a close, taking root from past achievements, the ICAED decides to step up its efforts to intensify its campaign to disseminate the core values of the Convention to fight against the abominable crime of enforced disappearance. It continues to cooperate with the 30-year old UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, whose mandate, established by 1992 UN Declaration for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is essential, especially for all States that did not ratify the Convention. It also equally commits to work with the new Committee on Enforced Disappearances whose mandate is to ensure the treaty’s implementation in governments that have ratified it.

[Statement] A Gift to Humanity, A Hope for the Future – AFAD

Statement of AFAD on the 1st Anniversary of the entry into force of UN Convention Against Enforced Disappearance
23 December 2011

A Gift to Humanity, A Hope for the Future

  Last year, the world received one of the best Christmas gifts when the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance entered into force, 30 days after the deposit of the 20thinstrument of ratification by Iraq on 23 November 2010.

This new treaty is a gift to humanity as it recognizes that enforced disappearance is a global phenomenon that must be addressed globally. It is a major human rights concern of more than 90 countries based on the 2010 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), a thematic UN body created in 1980 to monitor cases of enforced disappearances worldwide. Asia is the continent that has the highest number of disappearance cases.

The international treaty against enforced disappearances is also a gift to the families of the disappeared as it acknowledges that enforced disappearance brings havoc to the lives not only of the direct victims who are forcibly taken by agents of the States and denied access to legal safeguards by removing them from the protection of the law but also to the victims’ families, who endlessly suffer from the uncertainty of knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.

It is no doubt a gift to every human person as it guarantees the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance.It provides that enforced disappearance can never be justified under any circumstances. The effective creation of a universal jurisdiction is one of the most important parts of the Convention. It also obliges States Parties to enact domestic laws that sanction enforced disappearances as a distinct crime.

This important treaty is especially valuable for the Asian region which is bereft of strong regional mechanisms for redress and of distinct laws criminalizing this odious practice. As of this time, 90 states have signed it and 30 are States-Parties. It is also important that the competence of the newly established Committee on Enforced Disappearances that accepts individual and inter-state communication be recognized by as many states as possible. The Committee on Enforced Disappearances can serve asa vehicle to ensure full implementation of the anti-disappearance treaty.  In cooperation with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, it can go a long way towards the attainment of truth and justice and ending impunity.

Today, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances joins the families of the disappeared and human rights advocates around the world in commemorating the 1st anniversary of the entry into force of this International Convention Against Enforced Disappearance –a grand step in the fight against this global scourge. For the families of the disappeared who struggled for years to make it a reality, it is a gift and an inspiration to steadfastly make enforced disappearance disappear from the face of the earth. In the words of the late French Ambassador Bernard KessedjianBernanrd, “… make this huge hope of yesterday, the reality of tomorrow.”

MUGIYANTO                        MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Chairperson                           Secretary-General

[Statement] Impunity for Enforced Disappearance Must End NOW! – AFAD

Today (December 10), as the world commemorates the 63rd International Human Rights Day, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances or (AFAD) calls on all governments particularly those in the Asian region to stop enforced disappearance and to end impunity.

Enforced disappearance is considered one of the cruelest human rights transgression. It is a multiple and continuous violation of the basic human rights not only of the direct victims but also of their families and the greater society. It inflicts untold sufferings to the victims who are forcibly taken by agents of the States and denied access to legal safeguards by removing them from the protection of the law. It causes ill-effects to the victims’ families, not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. Mothers, wives, and daughters are usually left without any means to tend their families. In South Asian context, wives of the disappeared are called “half-widows’ who are stripped of legal status to obtain pensions and other means of support.  Children of the disappeared equally suffer. They are deprived of a normal family and a good future. No doubt, enforced disappearance sows fear and terror in society.

Many governments employ this atrocious practice as a tool of state repression and political witch-hunt. It is a major human rights concern of more than 80 countries based on the 2010 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, a thematic UN body created in 1980 to monitor the incidences of enforced disappearances worldwide. Many cases occur in Asian countries, the continent that submitted the highest number of cases.

The Asian region lacks a strong mechanism for redress.  There are no available domestic laws penalizing disappearance as a separate and autonomous criminal offense. Not only are cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances difficult to investigate and prosecute. They recur with each passing day in many Asian countries. Perpetrators can easily walk away from criminal accountability.

Efforts by several governments along with families of the disappeared and international human rights organizations have made possible the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly and its consequent entry into force on 23 December 2010. To date, this international human rights instrument has 90 signatories and 30 States Parties.

It is but imperative for all states to accede to the international treaty against enforced disappearances without reservation and immediately adopt effective national laws to abolish this horrendous practice.

While these legal measures and mechanisms may not bring back the disappeared, they can certainly help in finding truth and justice and in preventing cases from happening again. It only takes one small step to have a leap of change.

Ending impunity should both be a demand and a call for unity and action.

For the disappeared and their families, the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will have deeper meaning through governments’ accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the enactment of laws criminalizing disappearances and their full implementation.

Signed by:
MUGIYANTO
Chairperson
MARY AILEEN DIEZ- BACALSO
Secretary-General

[Statement] ON FIND’S 26th Founding Anniversary

23 November 2011
STATEMENT ON FIND’S 26TH FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY

The establishment of FIND 26 years ago today, reminds us of the remarkable courage and strength of the nine founding families of the disappeared who braved the wrath of the Marcos dictatorship as they challenged the then moribund regime to surface their missing kin and bring those responsible for their disappearance to justice even as they demanded an end to such heinous offense.

This urgent call on the Marcos regime has been a sad refrain for the succeeding families of desaparecidos under the following C. Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and B.S. Aquino III administrations. In view of the unabated commission of enforced disappearance and the persistence of impunity, FIND now additionally urges strongly the second Aquino administration to prioritize the enactment of a special law penalizing enforced disappearance as an autonomous crime and to sign and accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

FIND believes that these complementary domestic and international measures clearly set best practices that guarantee the right to not be disappeared, remedies and penalties in the event of violation, and reparation to victims. The Convention provides adequate standards against which actions of States vis-à-vis protection from enforced disappearance may be appropriately assessed.

Revisiting the birth of FIND brings back the sterling lives, principles and causes fought for by the early desaparecidos. These social and political activists were among the finest men and women of their generation. They courageously and steadfastly joined and led the people in the collective struggle for freedom, democracy, justice, and peace.

It is indeed deplorable that today FIND pays tribute to the desaparecidos and their families amidst continuing violations of civil liberties and human rights – the very bedrock of human dignity and democracy for which they fought notwithstanding the shackles of political repression.

It is likewise lamentable that FIND begins the 27th year of its struggle for the causes of the disappeared and their families, sharing the pain and anguish of the families, friends and colleagues of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre, one of whom remains missing to this very day. It should be noted that the carnage was planned to be a massive enforced disappearance with the undeniable intent to conceal the fate and whereabouts of the victims by burying their remains in a clandestine mass grave.

The snail-paced prosecution of this two-year old atrocity is no different from government’s foot-dragging in investigating enforced disappearance cases.

To the desaparecidos and all victims of human rights violations, FIND reaffirms today its unwavering commitment to keep the flame of courage ablaze in the hearts of its members to carry on the struggle for respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights fully aware that only history, not a self-righteous President, can truly define the straight path to human dignity.

[Statement] CONFERENCE STATEMENT International Conference on Enforced Disappearances

CONFERENCE STATEMENT

International Conference on Enforced Disappearances
Geneva, Switzerland, 7-9 November 2011

Organizations of Families from Various Continents
and International NGOs
Gather on the First Meeting of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
and on the 95th Session of the UN WGEID

We, members and supporters of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) from Africa, Asia, Euro-Asia, Euro-Mediterranean Region, Latin America, North America convened for the first time at the seat of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland on the occasion of the first meeting of the newly established UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).  The CED is the body of independent experts which monitors the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (The Convention) by the States Parties.

Our gathering, which we considered a high level of solidarity, was also intended to coincide with the 95th session of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID), which, in its 30 years of working for the clarification of the whereabouts of the disappeared, has supported and continues to support our work.

This historic gathering of the members of the Coalition has provided us with a venue to update ourselves on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in our respective countries and our common campaign for signatures to and ratifications of the Convention. This is an integral part of the search for truth and justice and of our struggle against impunity.  A very important component of the conference was the re-launching of the program Linking Solidarity through the process of conducting a participatory research on Learning History.

Coming all the way from our respective countries, we share the still on-going and unresolved cases of enforced disappearances. The presentations made us reconfirm that in most of our countries, the heinous crime of enforced disappearance remains unresolved and worse still, persists with each passing day. The multiple violations of the rights wreak immeasurable pain and anxiety to both the disappeared and their surviving families and relatives.

The ICAED laments the resurgence of enforced disappearances across the globe. It expresses deep and special concern on the situation of enforced disappearance in Africa as the number of enforced disappearances throughout the continent remains of high concern. Under-reporting continues to be a problem and associations of relatives of disappeared people are targets of harassment, threats and attacks. The ongoing monitoring of the WGEID and of the CED is therefore of the utmost importance.

The Convention, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2006 and had entered into force on 23 December 2010 is a sign of recognition by the United Nations of the global magnitude of the crime.  It is a major victory of the associations and federations of families of the disappeared whose real-life experiences of the consequences of enforced disappearance have been fundamental bases of many of its provisions. To date, the treaty has 90 signatories and 30 States Parties.  Considering the global magnitude of enforced disappearances, much remains to be done in attaining universal implementation of the Convention.

Thus, the Conference deemed it important to chart its plan of action both for internal consolidation and expansion as well as for carrying out its mandate of campaigning for as many signatures and ratifications of the Convention as possible.

To make its international presence visible, the ICAED conducted a side event, entitled:  “Universal Implementation of the International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances:  A Task and a Challenge.”  The Chairpersons of both the UN WGEID and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) spoke on the imperative of cooperation between the two bodies and their cooperation with members of civil society.  The presence of the Argentinian government in the panel, whose commendable efforts to ensure the Convention’s implementation, is a source of inspiration.

At this juncture, the ICAED expresses its appreciation for the establishment of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED) and calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that this new monitoring body is provided with adequate resources and staffing support to carry out its functions in the most effective way. At the same time, the ICAED stresses the importance to continue maintaining an effective WGEID, fully staffed and with sufficient resources as well.  The ICAED believes that the WGEID and the CED have to work in a coordinated manner.

The ICAED emphasizes the importance of both UN bodies.  The ICAED, thus calls on all States to cooperate with and to provide their support to the WGEID as well as to the new CED.

In as much as the ICAED calls for the support of both the WGEID and the CED, it expresses its willingness to contribute its wealth of expertise to the forthcoming exercises concerning the implementation of the Convention as well as the establishment of the jurisprudence of the CED.   It likewise urges both bodies to have an open consultative process including civil society, in particular, families’ organizations for the development of their rules of procedure and working methods.

The ICAED expresses the crucial importance of States to seriously engage in the fight against impunity and enforce by all means their obligation to investigate, prosecute and sanction those responsible for enforced disappearance and serious international crimes.

The ICAED calls on all States to ratify and fully implement the Convention and to recognize the competence of the CED pursuant to Articles 31 and 32 of the Convention and which are systematically included among the criteria applied by the Universal Periodic Review.  It further calls on all States to adopt domestic legislation to criminalize the autonomous offense of enforced disappearance and to ensure the prevention and punishment of this practice.  Corollary to this, the ICAED recommends that States take into consideration the Amnesty International (AI) publication, “No Impunity for Enforced Disappearance: Checklist for the Effective Implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” in the drafting of relevant national legislation.

Finally, the ICAED underscores the continuing crime of enforced disappearance for it continues to violate the rights of the victims and to inflict endless sufferings on their families and relatives.  Thus, sustainability of our efforts is deemed important as the theme of this International Conference states: “Linking Our Solidarity; Strengthen Our Unity; Renew Our Commitment Towards the Ratification of the International Treaty Against Enforced Disappearances.”

Participating Organizations to the ICAED International Conference on Enforced Disappearances
November 7-9, 2011 Geneva Switzerland

Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD)
Al-Ata’a for Human Rights Support-Iraq
Amnesty International
Asamblea Permante por los Derechos Humanos – Argentina
Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos, Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales y Torturados Huancayo-Junín (AFDDEET) -Peru
Association de Parents et Amis de Disparus au Maroc
Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos de El Salvador
Asociación para la Recuperacion de la Memoria Historia de Catalunya (ARMHC)
Breaking the Wall of Silence-Namibia
Centro de los Derechos Humanos y Talleres Productivos Qatari Panituri-Peru
Colegio de Abogados – Peru
Collectif des Families De Disparus en Algerie
Comision de Derechos Humanos (COMISEDH)-Peru
Comité de Coordination des Familles des Disparus au Maroc (CCFDM)- Morocco
Equipo Peruano de Antropologia Forense – Peru
Federation Internationale de l’ACAT (FIACAT)
Federation Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)
Fédération Euroméditérannéenne Contre Les Disparitions forcées (FEMED)
Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos (FEDEFAM)
Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
Jardin des Disparus
Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental – Guatemala
Russian Justice Initiative
Track Impunity Always
Torture Abolition and Support Coalition
Civil Initiative We Remember -Belarus
Zimbabwe Peace Project

[Statement] All Souls’ Day – www.find.org.ph

Photo by TFDP

Every year on All Souls’ Day, we, the families of desaparecidos, having no tombs to visit and still hoping to be reunited with our missing kin alive or dead, gather at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido at the Baclaran church grounds to collectively remember and honor our loved ones.

The shrine has been a mute witness to the pain and anguish of mothers, wives, children and other relatives who still feel the inhumanity of their loved ones’ deprivation of liberty and multiple violations of human rights in the hands of their captors. That justice has been elusive and impunity is the order of the day are a reality they confront with hope never wanting.

Along with other human rights advocates and defenders, we pray, offer flowers and light candles even as we reflect on the desaparecidos’ courageous struggle for freedom and dignity for the Filipino people. Thus, we bring our beloved heroes and martyrs back to the present uphill battle for peace and justice.

While we join the nation and the families of the soldiers who were brutally killed in Al-Barka, Basilan and other conflict-torn areas in the country condemn the atrocities, and hope that government will resolutely pursue the President’s bold declaration of “all-out justice” for the victims and their families, we lament his failure to express the same for the ten reported victims of enforced disappearance under his watch.

The Aquino administration may not have declared a definitive human rights agenda, but we expect it at the very least to finally enact the anti-enforced disappearance bill into law and sign and accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

These domestic and international laws may not bring our missing kin back to our fold, but they will definitely prevent others from being forcibly disappeared and spare their families the trauma that we suffered.

http://www.find.org.ph/news/13-statements/23

[Press Release] Labor and Human Rights NGO launches book on the Impact of extra-judicial killings on families of victims – CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) in partnership with the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE) with support from the European Union (EU) launched on Thursday, August 25, From Despair to Defiance, a book on the impact of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations on the families of victims, at the Kowloon House West Avenue, Quezon City.

Norman Tubera, CTUHR Project Manager for the EU-funded project for the Rehabilitation of Families of Victims of EJKs, EDs and Arbitrary Detention Towards Ending These Violations noted the book’s uniqueness as it focuses on the effects of human rights violations to the families and communities of victims, “While much have been said and written about the victims, this book exposes the immediate and long-term impact of human rights violations on the families of the victims especially on the widows and the children.”

“The families are victims themselves and it is equally important to look at the effects of these violations on them because they are the ones who grieve the most for their lost loved ones. Particularly the families of victims in trade unions, they experience material and economic difficulties because they lose the family breadwinner.”

The book is the product of a 15-month project funded by the EU aimed at rehabilitating the families of victims. The program consists of psychosocial, legal and advocacy and livelihood components. The book contains select stories of human rights violations and analyses of psychologists who facilitated the psychosocial workshops provided to the families in the course of project.

“Largely from a psychosocial approach, the book explains how the families coped with the trauma of the violations. And as the title suggests, the book uncovers how grief was transformed to the families’ resolve to fight for justice.”

“We hope that with this book will allow the public to understand more the gravity of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and impunity for human rights violations in the country. We also want this book to be an inspiration to everyone to persist in the struggle, towards ending human rights violations in the country.”

Timely reminder

The book’s launch which was held days before the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30 is also a “timely reminder” to President Aquino of his promise to bring closure to human rights killings and end human rights violations. Tubera notes, “Human rights situation in the country remains unchanged with 48 new cases of killings since President Aquino assumed office and we have yet to see anyone get prosecuted for the HR violations of the previous administration. The military also continues to defy the Supreme Court’s order to surface disappeared students Empeño and Cadapan. President Aquino should realize the depth of these violations and start delivering his promise.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reference: Norman Tubera, Project Manager, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63915.238.1663

[Photo Blog] We have RAGED!

Photo by Darwin Mendiola/AFAD

More than a hundred advocates gathered in Quezon City Circle to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared.  Led by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD) together with members of the Coalition Against Enforced Disappearance (CAED), the group held a Run Against Enforced Disappearance tagged as “We have RAGED!”.

Read more

[Statement] They are not alone – United Nations Working Group on Enforced or involuntary Disappearances

(Statement by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or involuntary Disappearances to mark the first UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – 30 August 2011)

GENEVA (30 August 2011) – “They are not alone in their struggle. Today, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances marks the first UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances; a special day to spotlight this heinous crime, and to remind victims, including the families and associations of victims of those who disappeared, that they are not alone.

‘He was arrested in 1997 and there has been no news since…’ (Testimony of the mother of a disappeared person)

Unfortunately, enforced disappearances continue to be used by some States as a tool to deal with situations of conflict or internal unrest. We have also witnessed the use of the so-called ‘short term disappearances,’ where victims are placed in secret detention or unknown locations, outside the protection of the law, before being released weeks or months later, sometimes after having been tortured and without having been brought in front of a judge or other civil authority.

This very worrisome practice, whether it is used to counter terrorism, to fight organized crime or suppress legitimate civil strife demanding democracy, freedom of expression or religion, should be considered as an enforced disappearance and as such adequately investigated, prosecuted and punished.

‘I have searched for him… I have searched for him for a long time all over the country…’

No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance, and to end such a practice, States should continue promoting and giving full effect to the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, especially the definition of enforced disappearance as a separate and autonomous criminal offence in national legislation.

The inclusion of enforced disappearance as an autonomous offence, separate from similar acts like kidnappings, has proved to be effective in preventing and eradicating enforced disappearances. The Working Group stands willing to assist States who seek to include enforce disappearance in their criminal codes, according to international human rights standards.

‘I was convinced I was going to find him, that it was a mistake, that they couldn’t keep him, that they were going to set him free…’

Over the last thirty years, the families of disappeared persons have brought to the attention of the international community the extent of this odious crime. Largely due to their efforts, the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance entered into force on 23 December 2010.The willingness of a number of States to take on the commitment that ‘no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance’ must also be stressed.

The Convention includes for the first time in a treaty the right of any person not to be subjected to enforced disappearance. It also recognizes the right of all the persons affected by enforced disappearance to know the truth about the circumstances of this crime, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person.

Following the entry into force of the Convention, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances has been established. Like for many other thematic human rights issues such as torture, racial discrimination, discrimination against women, rights of the child, and a series of civil, cultural, economic, political, social rights, the Committee and the Working Group will coexist side by side, cooperating in the fight to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances wherever they occur around the world.

‘I used to make up reasons why he was arrested; like maybe it was because he did not register for military service, maybe this, maybe that…’

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. To commemorate it, we encourage all States and civil society to translate the Declaration into all languages and dialects, with no distinction, since all serve the purpose to assist in its global dissemination and the ultimate goal of preventing enforced disappearances.

On the UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, which has been observed for many years in many countries, we pay tribute to the many victims, relatives of victims, human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations, lawyers and other individuals and groups who work untiringly and unstintingly, often in difficult circumstances, to denounce cases of enforced disappearance, discover the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared, and eradicate this terrible practice.
‘So every minute I was expecting him to open the door and come home, but he never did come home…’

They are not alone.”

UNITED NATIONS Press release

[Petition] Support the enactment of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act – by FIND

We support the immediate enactment of the proposed Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2011 and the signing and ratification by the Philippine Government of the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED).

SIGN PETITION HERE.

[Statement] Joint statement of AFAD and FIND: Freedom to all Political Prisoners, Justice to all Desaparecidos

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) strongly urge the Philippine government to immediately release all political prisoners even as we lament the failure of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to heed with dispatch the prisoners’ call for freedom. Prompt and favorable response by government could have averted the current hapless condition of the political prisoners who are now on the 19th day of their hunger strike.

There are 313 political prisoners and detainees who are still languishing in various detention facilities all over the country according to the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).  But the Philippine government continues to deny them political recognition by charging them with common criminal offenses.  It is a clear breach of international human rights and humanitarian laws, especially the right to liberty as well as the international standards of fair trial and other rights of detained and confined persons.

We, the families and friends of the victims of enforced disappearance, support the call of the political prisoners on the Philippine government to rectify their erroneous arrest and deprivation of liberty to pave the way not only for their immediate release but also to open the door for us to find our disappeared loved ones.

Most if not all political prisoners, have invariably disclosed that they have been subjected to enforced disappearance and various acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during the period of their arrest and custodial investigation.  Some of them have been tortured to death like the case of the six PICOP (paper factory) workers in Agusan del Sur in the Southern Philippines whose tortured and lifeless bodies were burned to ashes by the members of the 62nd ID of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in October 2000.

While many among us would like to believe that our dear Desaparecidos are still unaccounted political prisoners, the possibility for those who have long been missing to have been mercilessly killed and unceremoniously dumped into some unmarked graves nags at our minds.

Enforced disappearance is an abominable tool resorted to by the State to eschew legitimate arrest and detention of political and social activists who are conveniently labeled as “Enemies of the State.” This also ensures the removal of hard evidence especially in case of secret disposal of dead bodies. It gives rise to multiple human rights transgressions as it violates the basic rights to liberty, due process of law and ultimately to life. Enforced disappearance undeniably creates a climate of uncertainty and terror for the victims and their families and society as a whole.

We, therefore, strongly urge the Philippine government to comply with its responsibilities under international law and fully respect human rights principles by putting an end to enforced disappearance and witch hunting as means to stifle political dissent.

One concrete step that the Philippine government should take is to accede without reservation to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.  The Convention, which upholds the right to truth and the non-derogability of the right against enforced disappearance, requires States to criminalize enforced disappearance in their statute books.

Should the Philippine government enact an Anti-Enforced Disappearance law, it will guarantee not only the prevention of the commission of enforced disappearance but also the illegal arrest and detention of political prisoners As the law would require an up-to-date registry of persons deprived of liberty among other safeguards against violation of their rights.   It will also serve as a good example to other Asian States which are facing similar phenomena of illegal detention and enforced disappearances.

Time is indeed of the essence for human rights victims. President Aquino should act NOW. He should not treat the on-going hunger strike of political prisoners as merely a humanitarian issue but a basic political element towards attaining peace and justice in the country.

The President should recognize that the political prisoners are not common criminals but prisoners of conscience like his father, the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino Jr. even as he is duty bound to bring justice the perpetrators of enforced disappearance from the Marcos regime to his own dispensation.

ASIAN FEDERATION AGAINST INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES (AFAD) &

FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE (FIND)

[Announcement] AFAD JOB OPENING (Short Term Project Assistant for August 16 – December 15, 2011)

AFAD JOB OPENING (Short Term Project Assistant for August 16 – December 15, 2011)

Terms of Reference

Title:          Project Assistant
for the Project  “A New Initiative for Linking Solidarity in Support
to the Struggle Against Enforced Disappearances”.
Organisation:   International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED),
Under supervision of its Steering Committee, particularly its Focal
Person, the AFAD Secretary General and ICAED Focal Person
Duty station:   at the Asian Federation Against Involuntary
Disappearances (AFAD), In Quezon City, being the Focal Point
organisation of the ICAED or any other place to be determined
Period: from August to December 2011

Setting and reporting

The ICAED (the International Coalition against Enforced
Disappearances) with support of PSO and IKV Pax Christi intends to
re-launch the programme Linking Solidarity (formerly run from the
Dutch organisation Aim for human rights. A project was approved to
enable this programme to continue its work and preserve its legacy, be
it in a new setting and form. The New Initiative will be more firmly
rooted and owned by the human rights defenders of the countries
affected by enforced disappearances, mainly by the relatives of
disappeared persons and their associations.
This position is located at the Secretariat of the AFAD.

Responsibilities

Under the direct supervision of the Secretary General of the Asian
Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), being the Focal
point organisation of the ICAED, the incumbent will:
•       Maintain contacts and facilitate the participation of ICAED members
and other key actors in the relevant stages of implementation of the
project;
•       Supervise the progress of learning history exercise to be conducted
as an evaluative method for selecting the roles and feature to be
preserved from the activities of the past.
•       Prepare and organise a strategic planning workshop for ICAED members
and close stakeholders;
•       Contribute to the drafting and editing of reports, programme
proposals , minutes of meetings and other written communications;
•       Supervise the use of the project budget;
•       Prepare narrative and financial reports  to donor organisations;
•       Arrange for practical matters related to the establishment of
operational premises for the new initiative;
•       Provide assistance to the organisation of Steering Committee meetings;
•       Actively contribute to the design of a fundraising strategy; conduct
fundraising meetings with institutional donor organisations;
•       Assist in the recruitment process of new staff for a follow-up phase
of the Initiative;
•       Organise training activities;
•       Contribute, at the request of the ICAED Focal point, to other
lobbying or campaigning activities of the ICAED or of its members;

Competencies

–       Understanding of human rights protection, institutional mandates for
the protection from enforced disappearances;
–       Good sensitivity for working with relatives of disappeared persons;
–       Ability to deal with politically sensitive matters, be able to
perform duties in a multilingual and multicultural team or
environment.
–       Experience with fundraising for human rights, humanitarian or
development projects would be considered an asset;
–       Self-starter: ability to initiate new initiatives and to run a range
of practical and organisational matters autonomously.
–       Excellent communication skills.
–       Planning and organization skills.

Education

A University degree in law, political sciences, international
relations or other disciplines related to human rights.
Work Experience
At leas two years of working experience in a position related to
international  cooperation or human rights.
Languages
Fluent in English. Knowledge of Spanish, Arabic, Russian and/or French
will be considered and asset.
Travelling
Willingness to undertake intercontinental travel.

How to apply?

Candidates should send in a curriculum vitae and a cover letter
explaining their motivation to apply for the position to Mrs Mary
Aileen Diez-Bacalso .. [ +function,  address and email ] before 15
August. Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview and
possibly a written test.  For any questions please contact  May Aquino
at 4546759 or Aileen at 0917792

MARY AILEEN DIEZ-BACALSO
Secretary-General
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

Telefax: 00-632-4546759
Mobile: (63)917-792-4058
Website: http://www.afad-online.org

[Statement] Joint Statement of AFAD and FIND On the President Aquino’s 2nd State of the Nation Address 25 July 2011

Today, the whole nation will be sitting on the edge of the seat as we listen to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).

We are all expecting PNoy to go beyond mere rhetoric of promised change. Leaving out human rights from the government’s top agenda during his first SONA has become a major blunder that brings the nation way off his “daang matuwid” (straight path) in over a year in office.

In as far as human rights are concerned, it has been a crooked trail from the start. The president did not only fail to fulfill his promise to end serious human rights violations in the country, but his inaction has led to more transgressions with brazen impunity.

The continuing commission of enforced disappearances highlights this untenable fact. As of September 2010, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) has documented 2,314 cases of disappearance since the dark days of Martial Law up to the present administration.  Eight new cases have been reported under the present Aquino administration according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Most of these cases are attributed to state security sectors. To note, the recent Supreme Court decision ordered the military to release two missing UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and their farmer companion, Manuel Merino and named members of the Armed Forces of thePhilippines, including retired Major General Jovito Palparan responsible for their disappearance in 2006. Yet until now, no single perpetrator has been brought to justice.

This situation mirrors the dismal state of human rights in the country under the Aquino administration.

But it is not late. PNoy still has time to improve his performance on human rights. He can do this by combating impunity. Certifying the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2011 as priority legislation and the signing and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance are the first concrete steps towards attaining justice.

The bills criminalizing enforced disappearance have been filed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives since the 9th Congress. The House approved the substitute bill on third and final reading in the past two Congresses but in the current 15th Congress, the six bills pending before the Committee on Justice are yet to be consolidated.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), and other human rights groups have been lobbying for the Philippine government to fulfill its voluntary pledges and commitments to the United Nations Human Rights Council to sign and ratify the International Convention For the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. But until now, the government has not made any positive step towards achieving this promise.

The Aquino administration has not pushed for the enactment of the bill and accession to the treaty. In the meeting with AFAD, FIND and human rights groups and representatives of victims’ families on 6 October 2010, President Aquino promised to study the matter. But after nine months, the government still has an ambiguous position on the issue even after the follow-up meeting of AFAD, FIND and some foreign representatives of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) with the Office of the Executive Secretary last week.

It is about time for PNoy to walk the talk. Being a son of a human rights victim himself, he should know better that a society free from enforced disappearance and other forms of human rights violation is an integral part of the straight path where he should lead the nation.

The Filipino nation deserves no less than respect for, protection and fulfillment of their human rights more particularly the right not to be disappeared whose transgression violates practically all human rights.

ASIAN FEDERATION AGAINST INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES (AFAD)

FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE (FIND)

[Blogger] Disappearance in the eyes of a victim’s child – anakngdesaparecidos.wordpress.com

by: Lorena Lenin Castillo

Enforced or involuntary disappearance. Many Filipinos are still unaware of how widespread this odious offense is in the country. The commission of this offense did not end with the Marcos regime, but continued with each succeeding administration.

Many of the victims are workers. Workers who were forced to fight for their rights, which capitalists shamelessly violated. Workers who fought for their principles against those who belong to the more powerful echelons of the society.

Who would have thought that the State, mandated to protect its citizens, is the main culprit behind such offense? Disappearance is perpetrated by State agents who claim that these workers hinder economic growth, when in fact all they are guilty of is hindering capitalist’ accumulation of wealth. These capitalist seem to have forgotten that labor is a primary economic force and that the works who supply it shed blood and sweat just to put some food on the table – even if it’s just a meal of salt and rice. All the while, they who own the companies wallow in riches.

This injustice drives masses to protest, fighting for their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights which the rich and powerful, such as politician, nonetheless trample on. Yes, politicians. For many companies are owned by these so called ‘representative of the people’ or they are protégées of big capitalists. And because of their status, they are certainly powerful and have the “right connections”.

Thus, they can easily cause harm to those who stage protests. Some even are captured and later on killed. These killings are usually done by the very security forces of our government. The same people who sworn to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the people.

A number of victims’ bodies have been found, but many cannot be located yet. Many families continue to hope that their disappeared relatives will be found alive. And many more continue to live in fear of the very possibility that another loved one could be the next victim.

We live in constant fear of having to live through the trauma all over again.

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