Tag Archives: United Nations General Assembly

[Resources/Campaign] What is torture?

 

“In 1987, the Convention against #Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. It was an important step in the much-needed process of globalising #humanrights and acknowledging that torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, are absolutely and universally illegal. In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.”
torture copy

 

[Resources] UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez’s report focusing on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs)

UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez’s report focusing on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) 

Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez. Extracted from UN.org Photo Jean-Marc Ferré

Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez. Extracted from UN.org Photo Jean-Marc Ferré

[Source: Notes were extracted from the information communicated by the American University Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law’s Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI) to its networks.]

The publication of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment, Juan E. Méndez (SRT) latest thematic report focusing on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) as they relate to legal standards pertaining to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The report, which will be presented during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, is intended as a contribution to the ongoing review process of the SMRs, which is being led by the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDOC), and involves the active participation of many States and civil society organizations.

The report reflects on several areas that are being targeted for review and analyzes their relationship with the international prohibition of torture and ill-treatment by identifying procedural standards and safeguards that States are obliged to implement in this respect. It is the SRT’s hope that the report will contribute meaningfully to the progressive development of the SMRs and help expand their implementation as related to the prevention of torture and ill-treatment worldwide.

The full report is available on the ATI website (www.antitorture.org/sm) where you will also be able to monitor the progress of the report and its presentation to the General Assembly, read the latest news related to the report and the ongoing SMR review process, and accesses other relevant information. The SRT and the ATI would also like to encourage you to share your comments and reactions to the report with us, as well as the different ways in which you and/or your organization have incorporated the SMRs in your human rights and anti-torture work.

Follow the ATI on Twitter and Facebook.

Click SMR_Report_August_2013 to see the PDF copy of the report

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[Resources] Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders -HRD-P

Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders
by Human Rights Defenders- Pilipinas

Protecttion manual for HRD cover

Introduction

hrd-logo-sample-colored5The universality of human rights does not guarantee that it is indeed respected, protected, and fulfilled. On the other hand, cases of human rights violations persist, in the Philippines and all over the world. Hence, there is a need to raise people’s awareness on human rights and how to defend them.

According to the United Nations document Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 29, “Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. Human rights defenders are identified above all by what they do…[1]

In summary, gathering and disseminating information, advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion are often the most common tools used by human rights defenders in their work…they also provide information to empower or train others. They participate actively in the provision of the material means necessary to make human rights a reality – building shelter, providing food, strengthening development, etc. They work at democratic transformation in order to increase the participation of people in the decision-making that shapes their lives and to strengthen good governance. They also contribute to the improvement of social, political and economic conditions, the reduction of social and political tensions, the building of peace, domestically and internationally, and the nurturing of national and international awareness of human rights.[2]

Sadly, those who defend human rights are the ones who often face risks and challenges. Human rights defenders have become victims of harassment, arrest and detention, vilification campaigns, sometimes, even torture, or worse, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killing. State authorities are the most common perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders.
Who will then defend the defenders in situations when the human rights defenders themselves become targets of attacks?

In recognition of the risks faced by human rights defenders, steps have been made by the United Nations, no less, to guarantee their protection.

The first major step was formally to define the “defence” of human rights as a right in itself and to recognize persons who undertake human rights work as “human rights defenders”. On 9 December 1998, by its resolution 53/144, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the “Declaration on human rights defenders”). The second step was taken in April 2000, when the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asked the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative on human rights defenders to monitor and support the implementation of the Declaration.

Despite positive developments on the protection of human rights defenders, there is a need for human rights defenders themselves to come up with comprehensive and realistic strategies to ensure their protection.

This manual aims to provide human rights defenders with practical knowledge and some effective tools that may be useful for improving their understanding on human rights defender’s security and protection. The manual is intended to help defenders to undertake their own risk assessments and define security rules and procedures which suit their particular situation.

Click to Download Entire Manual/Document: HRD PROTECTION MANUAL (1)

also available @renatomabunga.wordpress.com

[1] Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 29, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, Geneva, April 2004.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

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[Statement] Unabated human rights violations continually hurt God and the Church -VCDG

Unabated human rights violations continually hurt God and the Church
Most Rev. Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
Head Convenor, Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
December 10, 2012

Bp Gerardo Alminaza 2Blessed John Paul II commended the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, as “a true milestone on the path of humanity’s moral progress” (JP 2, 34th General Assembly of the United Nations).

But as we commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Human Rights Day, we continue to assert that the unabated human rights violations in the country are fundamental breaches of the laws of God and the teachings of the Church.

Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in his own image. The human individual, then, possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 357). We see in our neighbors, the living image of our Creator, and we show our love of God and neighbor through respecting our neighbor’s dignity.

But the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) recently condemned the continuing human rights violations in the country under the Aquino government, particularly cases of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders.

In Cebu, we support the advocacies of the Archdiocesan Discernment Group led by Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma in defending the rights of our marginalized brothers and sisters in the rural and urban areas.

The labor sector in the Mactan Export Processing Zone and in other factories in Cebu has to contend with unjust labor practices, union busting, contractualization, and many other oppressive and anti-labor practices.

In Barangay Luz of Cebu City, urban poor households were demolished even without adequate relocation sites facilitated. Former President Ramon Magsaysay gave them the relocation site in the said Barangay in the 1950’s.

The land tilled by farmers in Aloguinsan, Cebu since the time of their ancestors are now claimed by a rich landed family.

The local government is reclaiming seabeds in Cordova, Cebu in order to build golf courses and five star hotels. This will surely wipe out the livelihood of poor fisherfolks in the area, and will destroy seagrass beds and the ecosystem of corals connected to the double-barrier reef of the Danajon Bank in Bohol.

In other areas of the country, we are alarmed of the killing of anti-mining advocates who fight against large-scale mining.

The current human rights situation show that as a community, we have been remiss in respecting the dignity of our neighbors and the integrity of creation; and if this continues, justice and peace would be impossible to achieve.

As a community of persons, we must be steadfast in our duty to work for the good of all, the common good: to destroy the structures of sin, and build a society of justice, love and peace. May Jesus, the Prince of Peace of Christmas, defend the human rights of His brothers and sisters here in the Philippines and in the whole world.

For Reference:

BISHOP GERARDO ALMINAZA, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/ Head Convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG)
Tel. No. (033) 3291625

VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
E-Mail Address: visayasclergydiscernment@yahoo.com

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[Statement] Human Rights Community Commemorates International Day Against Torture by free zone -HRD-Pilipinas

Human Rights Community Commemorates International Day Against Torture by free zone
26 June 2012

In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

On this significant day, the Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas together with the human rights communities worldwide commemorates this important date in pushing through a much needed process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as absolutely prohibited and universally illegal.

Torture has no place in a civilized society like ours. But we are gravely concerned of its continuing practice not only to persons under investigation but against human rights defenders.

A recent case showed that farmer-leader Franklin Barrera, 18, claimed that he was abducted and tortured by the military. This happened on June 7, 2012 in Lopez, Quezon Province.

Barrera was allegedly hit in the nape with a rifle butt when he failed to identify the persons in the picture presented by the military. He claimed that he was forced to swallow three spoonful of salt and made to drink water to liquefy it. He managed to escape and was eventually confined at Doña Martha Memorial Hospital in Atimonan, Quezon.

Given this incident, we call not just for a reorientation but also reformation of our institutions in the work for human rights, particularly the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders with the likes of Barrera.

Soon we hope that human rights defenders are truly considered partners in the creation of a worldwide culture of human rights, peace and development — where torture becomes a thing of the past and where human rights defenders are protected in the conduct of their duties.

In the latest United Nation’s process of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month, the Philippines claimed a decrease in the number of reported cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings; but, one victim of any human rights violations is too many. Efforts to prosecute perpetrators remain insufficient. And there is still much concern over slow convictions for human rights violations.

Up until now, cases involving Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr, who is accused of torture, killing and disappearance of political activists have not been resolved. Palparan is still at large. Based on unconfirmed reports he is currently under the protection of close friends in the military and private individuals.

It is not a question of whether or not cases of torture have been lessened. It is on how our government solves and permanently eradicates this procedure in their practices. The police and military should seriously respond to this challenge by identifying concrete steps, clear policy and truthful implementation of their sworn duty based on the international standards of human rights.

Finally, as a measure of sincerity to end cruel, degrading and inhuman act, the government especially President Benigno Aquino III must openly declare war against torturers, and yield them with appropriate penalties they deserve.###

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-807463
http://renatomabunga.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/human-rights-community-commemorates-international-day-against-torture/

[Urgent Action] Killing of an anti-mining advocate in Salcedo, Eastern Samar -The Observatory

URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

PHL 003 / 0612 / OBS 062
Intimidation/death threats/assassination
Philippines
June 20, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in The Philippines.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) of the intimidation of, and threats against, Ms. Carolyn R. Borja and Ms. Nenita Lacasa, respectively President of Carapdapan Movement for Development Association (CAMADA INC.), and staff member.

According to the information received, on June 19, 2012, Ms Lacasa was at home at 2pm on May 6, 2012, when Mr. Teros Lopido, Trustee of the President of the Terrestrial Mining Corporation, got off a pick up and aimed one shot at the upper storey before leaving the scene. Ms. Lacasa also reported that unknown individuals had been monitoring her home on several occasions in May, at times standing guard in a pick up with the same number plate. In addition, on May 23, 2012, individuals riding two motorcycles fired shots at 11 pm on Ms. Borja’s home before fleeing the scene.

These violent acts of intimidation come in the wake of the stabbing to death, on May 1, 2012, of Mr. Franciso P. Canayong, President of Integrated Upland Farmers Association of Salcedo (BIUFAS), and member of Carapdapan Land Owners Association (CLOA), an organisation registered with the department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Mr. Canayong was also a member of CAMADA INC., and of Samar island partnership for peace and development. Mr. Canayong, a community leader, had led the people’s organization in actively supporting and advocating for peace and development issues, and particularly for the protection of the environment. He was active in the local campaign against the mining operation in Salcedo and in other parts of Eastern Samar, in the Eastern Visayas archipelago.

A few weeks before his killing, on March 19, 2012, Mr. Canayong, along with Ms Borja and Mr. Antonio M. Norte, barangay[1] councilor, had filed an affidavit in relation to verbal threats they had overheard on March 17,2012, during a conversation between Mr. Lopido, and some of his colleagues. The affidavit stated that Mr. Lopido had mentioned the names of Mr. Canayong, Mr. Norte and Ms. Borja, and the names of their associations. According to the affidavit, Mr. Lopido had threatened that “if the mining operation [is] stopped, they must leave their home and never show up again” otherwise he would kill them. According to the affidavit, Mr. Lopido had said that he would “enter each of their houses and kill them” if Mr. Canayong and his companions “interfered with their incoming chromite ore shipment.”

Mr. Canayong had consistently opposed mining activities because of its detrimental health and environmental impact on the community. On March 14 and 15, 2011, he had joined a barricade in barangay Carapdapan to stop the illegal transport of chromite ore by Terrestrial Mining Corporation on its way to China. Due to the group’s actions, the mining company had filed a civil case for damages against Mr. Canayong, Ms. Borja and 3 other members of their group at the Regional trial Court (RTC) branch 139 in Makati City, Manila.

In September 2011, Mr. Canayong, along with Ms. Borja and members of their group, had filed complaints with the office of the Ombudsman for the failure of the local government to intervene and stop the illegal mining activities in the area.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Philippines authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Borja, Ms. Lacasa and Mr. Norte, and of all human rights defenders in general in the Philippines;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the assassination of Mr. Canayong, and the death threats against Ms. Borja and Mr. Norte, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide adequate reparation to Mr. Canayong’s family;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
– its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
– its Article 6.a, which states that “everyone has the right individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems”,
– Article 12.1, which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,
– and its Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

v. Guarantee the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

· H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, New Executive Building, Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 736 1010, Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
· Hon. Leila M. De Lima Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ) Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila, 1000 Philippines Fax: +63 2 523 9548 Tel: + 63 2 521 1908
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / doj.delima@gmail.com
· Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188 Fax: +63 2929 0102 Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com
Police Director Nicanor Bartolome Chief, Philippine National Police Camp General Rafael Crame Quezon City, Philippines Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401 Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph
· Hon. Emilio Gonzalez Deputy Ombusdman Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military And other Law Enforcement Offices 3rd Flr., Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City Fax: +63 2 926 8747 Tel: +63 2 926 9032
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email: geneva.pm@dfa.gov.ph
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 340 33 77 / 2 340 33 78, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, June 20, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

International Women’s Day

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, enshrines “the equal rights of men and women”, and addressed both the equality and equity issues.[84] In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) for legal implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981.

The Convention defines discrimination against women in the following terms:

Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights

[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

[Blogger] Happy 63! [December 10, 1948] – koihernandez.wordpress.com

Happy 63! [December 10, 1948]
by koihernandez

Human rights are “commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.”

The idea of human rights, that is the notion that anyone has a set of inviolable rights simply on grounds of being human regardless of legal status, origin or conviction for crimes, emerges as an idea of Humanism in the Early Modern period and becomes a position in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.

The Declaration consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols.

In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.

Read full article @ koihernandez.wordpress.com

[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

[From the web] LGBT groups press Aquino gov’t: Comply with treaties before UN human rights review -thephilippinelgbthatecrimewatch.blogspot.com

LGBT groups press Aquino gov’t: Comply with treaties before UN human rights review
source: thephilippinelgbthatecrimewatch.blogspot.com

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists submitted to the United Nations two scathing reports on the human rights violations against LGBT people in the Philippines.

In the first report titled “The Status of LGBT Rights in the Philippines, Submission to the Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review 13th Session,” the groups Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights) and the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch (PLHCW) co-authored a documentation of different abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the country since 2007.

The other document “A Report on Violations of Human Rights Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Philippines” was authored by the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay).

The complaints add to the many NGO reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council as an alternative source of data to the official government report that the Aquino government is submitting for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2012. The UPR is a process where the Council examines each member state for its implementation of human rights treaties. The 2012 review is the second time the Philippines will come under the scrutiny of the council.

The RRights-PLHCW joint report scored Malacañang’s snub of the Anti-Discrimination Bill in Congress already pending for twelve years and its refusal to make a stand on resolutions against anti-LGBT violence in the United Nations General Assembly last year. President Aquino’s opposition to adoptions by LGBT couples also took a direct hit. It was also noted that the Supreme Court did not protect the rights of transgender persons to have their identities respected in birth and travel documents.

Reighben Labilles of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch highlighted the long string of murders and violence committed against LGBT Filipinos and the lack of comprehensive action of the Philippine National Police to solve these crimes.

Germaine Trittle Leonin, founding president of R-Rights, said the LGBT civil society report also aired the gross lack of health care services to the sector. The report lamented the tragedy that intersexed Filipino infants face later in life when their true sexuality comes in conflict with the sex that midwives and doctors assign to them. Also included in the shopping list of medical horrors is the infamous video scandal inflicted by a government hospital in Cebu on a gay patient.

The ProGay report zeroed in on the discrimination suffered by LGBT students in schools and lesbian workers in farms and factories. ProGay decried the violent use of pellet guns against transgender women in Cebu City.

The reports made a list of recommendations that the activists are putting forward to the government, such as:

·define and prosecute hate crimes targeting LGBT people and provide victims with access to courts

·develop educational programs for health workers regarding sexual orientation and gender identity

·provide support to transgender persons in surgery, health care costs, and mental health care management in relation to transitioning to the preferred sex

·equalize the rules of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for adoption by LGBT couples

·include LGBT issues and projects in national and local Gender and Development (GAD) desks and offices

·compel schools to respect free expression of gender and dress by LGBT students, and actively prevent bullying by other students and faculty

·include LGBT rights and the Yogyakarta principles in the mandate of the Presidential Human Rights Commission and the National Human Rights Action Plan

Oscar Atadero, the human rights documentor for ProGay, explained that the council will draft a list of recommendations called the Concluding Observations, which the global community expects the Philippine government to accept as its obligations to implement in order to address shortcomings in implementing human rights conventions.

[People] Comparative Study of the WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMMES of Canada, South Africa and the Philippines – by Dr. Renato Mabunga

(This is a shortened version of the research commissioned by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) to provide guidance and make better its Sanctuary Program. This is an exposé of selected countries Witness Protection Programmes (WPP) in an attempt to draw some lessons to further protection of witnesses and their families from eventual retaliation of antagonistic elements of society.)

Introduction:

As the term suggests “witness protection programme” is a security mechanism provided for threatened witnesses and their families or other related persons or any person involved in the justice system whose lives are endangered due to testimonies they are willing to divulge to shed light to a crime in order to propel the rule of law. The idea behind being in this program is to protect vital informants and to ensure fair and successful prosecution. This is propelled by the assumption that “person who committed the crime is usually the type of person who will take retribution against the party who is willing to tell what they seen” (Lopez, 2008). This means provision of protection before, during and to some extent after a trial.

Usually, witness protection is required in cases against organized crime. This is so after law enforcement’s or professional evaluation that witnesses are more likely at risks of intimidation or threats by supporters of a defendant or accused. However, there is much likely to see when the accused of a crime is part of the law enforcement institution. There is a need to establish effective protection mechanisms alongside building the capacity and ensuring the integrity of those who implement the programme.

In the Consolidated Response (07-008) of the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law or INROL (Toomey, 2007), it classified protection measures as Short-term Measures and Longer-term Measures to Protect Witnesses. Both measures detail out legislative and regulatory requirements in determining who and when to protect; strategies on how to protect; the use of procedural and formal witness protection. Short-term measures are those that need temporary protection while the case is under investigation. Long-term measures are those that need total relocation and change of identity even as the trial has ended because of the gravity of the case and its repercussions to the witnesses and their families or other related persons.

Among the many features of witness protection range from protection of witness’ identity during investigation and trial, assigning security detail, court injunctions and retraining orders, provision of safe houses, allotment of monthly allowances, provision of new identity and the other covert plans and made-up stories for protection. All these necessitate the effective functioning of the all the pillars of justice system. These also require persons under the program to prepare from temporary to total dislocation both physically and economically; emotional and psychological detachments from members of the family and friends; trauma and distrust – which are all detrimental if not handled properly not only to the witnesses but more so to their families especially the children.

International Framework and Standards on Witness Protection:

There are a number of international standards pertaining to protection of witnesses which serve as basis in the drafting of national or local witness protection program of various countries. Among them are:

* The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – adopted by the General Assembly thru resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000. In its Article 24, it mandated all parties to the convention to “take appropriate measures within its means to provide effective protection from potential retaliation or intimidation for witnesses in criminal proceedings who give testimony concerning offences… [including], as appropriate, their relatives and other persons close to them.” This “includes without prejudice to the rights of the accused, including the right to due process.” Specifically, it calls for the establishment of procedures “for the physical protection of such persons, such as, to the extent necessary and feasible, relocating them and permitting, where appropriate, non-disclosure or limitations on the disclosure of information concerning the identity and whereabouts of such persons”; provision of “evidentiary rules to permit witness testimony to be given in a manner that ensures the safety of the witness, such as permitting testimony to be given through the use of communications technology such as video links or other adequate means.” In so far as the case is a transnational crime, the convention recommends that the “States Parties shall consider entering into agreements or arrangements with other States for the relocation of persons” referred to as witnesses under witness-protection programme.

In Article 25 of the same document, the convention states that such appropriate measures for the protection of witness covers assistance such as compensation and restitution for victims of offenses.

* The Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power – adopted by the UN General Assembly thru resolution 40/34, annex on November 29, 1985. The assembly approved the said declaration “based on the conviction that victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity and that they are entitled to prompt redress for the harm that they have suffered, through access to the criminal justice system, reparation and services to assist their recovery. The Declaration recommends measures to be taken on behalf of victims of crime at the international, regional and national levels to improve access to justice and fair treatment, restitution, compensation and assistance. It also outlines the main steps to be taken to prevent victimization linked to abuse of pow er and to provide remedies for the victims.” (UNOCCDP, 1999).

“Victims” are defined in the declaration as those who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are violations of national criminal laws or of internationally recognized human rights instruments (UN general Assembly, 1985; UNOCCDP, 1999). The term “victim” also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization regardless of sex, religion, race color, language, nationality, political or other opinion, cultural beliefs or practices, property, birth or family status, ethnic or social origin, and disability.

It mandates the State Parties to the declaration to ensure judicial and administrative mechanisms through formal or informal procedures to enable expeditious and fair disposition of cases and execution of orders or decrees granting awards to victims. The responsiveness of these processes to the needs of victims should be facilitated by “providing proper assistance to victims throughout the legal process”; and, “taking measures to minimize inconvenience to victims, protect their privacy, when necessary, and ensure their safety, as well as that of their families and witnesses on their behalf, from intimidation and retaliation” (Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power #6 C & D, 1985).

* The UN Convention against Corruption – In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the need for an effective legal instrument against corruption and thus adopted resolution 58/4 after a series of negotiation on October 31, 2003 which was entered into force in December 2005 in accordance with Article 68 of the Convention.

The Convention against Corruption mandates all State Parties to “take appropriate measures in accordance with their domestic legal system and within their means to provide effective protection from potential retaliation or intimidation for witnesses and experts who give testimony concerning offences established in accordance with the Convention and, as appropriate, for their relatives and other persons close to them” (Article 32). These measures for protecting witnesses shall not prejudice the rights of the defendants including the right to due process; and shall be considered mutatis mutandis. These include the physical protection of person, relocation, secrecy of information, provision of evidentiary rules to ensure the safety of witnesses and the granting of immunity from prosecution in accordance w ith the fundamental principles of domestic laws. (Article 32 (2 &5); Article 37).

* The UN Economic and Social Council Resolution 2005/20 – Adopted by the Council during its 36th Plenary meeting in July 2005, the resolution pertains to the Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime as a useful framework in enhancing protection of child victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system and in developing legislation, procedures, policies, and practices relating to children who are victims of crime or witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Among the rights sought to be protected and established by this guidelines include among others are:

the right to be treated with dignity and compassion;
the right to be protected from discrimination;
the right to be informed;
the right to be heard and to express views and concerns;
the right to effective assistance;
the right to privacy;
the right to be protected from hardship during the justice process;
the right to safety;
the right to reparation; and,
the right to special preventive measures (UN Res. 2005/20, 2005).

Various International Tribunals or Courts also have ensured that legal provisions on witness protection are incorporated in their statutes.

* Article 22 and Article 21 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Statute of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, respectively state that, “the International Tribunal shall provide in its rules of procedure and evidence for the protection of victims and witnesses. Such protection measures shall include, but shall not be limited to, the conduct of in camera proceedings and the protection of the victim’s identity.”

* Articles 43(6) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that “the Registrar shall set up a Victims and Witnesses Unit within the Registry. This Unit shall provide, in consultation with the Office of the Prosecutor, protective measures and security arrangements, counseling and other appropriate assistance for witnesses, victims who appear before the Court and others who are at risk on account of testimony given by such witnesses. The Unit shall include staff with expertise in trauma, including trauma related to crimes of sexual violence.”

Article 68 of the same statute states:

1. The Court shall take appropriate measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses. In so doing, the Court shall have regard to all relevant factors, including age, gender as defined in article 7, paragraph 3, and health, and the nature of the crime, in particular, but not limited to, where the crime involves sexual or gender violence or violence against children. The Prosecutor shall take such measures particularly during the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. These measures shall not be prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial.

2. As an exception to the principle of public hearings provided for in article 67, the Chambers of the Court may, to protect victims and witnesses or an accused, conduct any part of the proceedings in camera or allow the presentation of evidence by electronic or other special means. In particular, such measures shall be implemented in the case of a victim of sexual violence or a child who is a victim or a witness, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, having regard to all the circumstances, particularly the views of the victim or witness.

3. Where the personal interests of the victims are affected, the Court shall permit their views and concerns to be presented and considered at stages of the proceedings determined to be appropriate by the Court and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial. Such views and concerns may be presented by the legal representatives of the victims where the Court considers it appropriate, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

4. The Victims and Witnesses Unit may advise the Prosecutor and the Court on appropriate protective measures, security arrangements, counseling and assistance as referred to in article 43, paragraph 6.

5. Where the disclosure of evidence or information pursuant to this Statute may lead to the grave endangerment of the security of a witness or his or her family, the Prosecutor may, for the purposes of any proceedings conducted prior to the commencement of the trial, withhold such evidence or information and instead submit a summary thereof. Such measures shall be exercised in a manner which is not prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial.

6. A State may make an application for necessary measures to be taken in respect of the protection of its servants or agents and the protection of confidential or sensitive information.

* Article 16(4) of the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone provides that: “the Registrar shall set up a Victims and Witnesses Unit within the Registry. This Unit shall provide, in consultation with the Office of the Prosecutor, protective measures and security arrangements, counseling and other appropriate assistance for witnesses, victims who appear before the Court and others who are at risk on account of testimony given by such witnesses. The Unit personnel shall include experts in trauma, including trauma related to crimes of sexual violence and violence against children.”

* The Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea also provides that:

The Extraordinary Chambers of the trial court shall ensure that trials are fair and expeditious and are conducted in accordance with existing procedures in force, with full respect for the rights of the accused and for the protection of victims and witnesses. If necessary, and if there are lacunae in these existing procedures, guidance may be sought in procedural rules established at the international level.

Suspects who have been indicted and arrested shall be brought to the trial court according to existing procedures in force. The Royal Government of Cambodia shall guarantee the security of the Suspects who appear voluntarily before the court and is responsible in taking measures for the arrest of the Suspects prosecuted under this law. Justice police shall be assisted by other law enforcement elements of the Royal Government of Cambodia, including its armed forces, in order to ensure that accused persons are brought into custody immediately.

Conditions for the arrest and the custody of the accused shall conform to existing law in force.

The Court shall provide for the protection of victims and witnesses. Such protection measures shall include, but shall be not limited to, the conduct of in camera proceedings and the protection of the victim’s identity. (Art. 33)

Read full article @ renatomabunga.wordpress.com

Weekend HR Posts Rundown and Analysis 4 September, 2011

Weekend HR Posts Rundown and Analysis
4 September, 2011

Human Rights Online Philippines features articles, blogs, news information and photos on human rights issues. It provides up-to-date information on human rights activities, events, campaigns, and solidarity actions in the Philippines. It aims not only to put human rights at the center of national discourse through digital media but also to elicit response from the public.

This week has been news and activity-filled information for HR postings.

1. The commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared has been the focus of attention and interest of the human rights community here and abroad.  The IDD (for brevity) annually set on August 30.  This year is the first year of its celebration since the United Nations General Assembly adopted it as part of its official calendar. Although the yearly celebration as a tribute to all desaparecidos has been going on for the past 30 years. In solidarity to all the victims of enforced disappearance and their families, HRonlinePH posited statements, press releases, events and other related news in its celebration.

Posted articles

  • [Urgent Action] (Philippines) A “Dumagat” tribal member was abducted by unidentified armed persons believed to be affiliated with the military
  • [Photo Blog] We have RAGED!
  • [In the news] Facebook profile pics go ‘desap’ for Int’l Day of the Disappeared- InterAksyon.com
  • [Statement] Statement of the Coalition Against Enforced Disappearance on the Int’l Day of the Disappeared
  • [Statement] Pahayag ng FIND para sa Pandaigdigang Araw ng mga Desaparecidos

2. The prevailing impunity for human rights violations is not only evident in the continuing commissions of civil and political rights violations but can also be seen in almost all social issues that have impact to economic, social and cultural rights of the people. HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post different issues and advocacies that put forward the demand not only for recognition of such rights but also a guarantee for its promotion, protection and fulfillment.

Posted articles

  • [From the web] Philippines – Lawmakers air concern over increasing anti-gay hate crimes – http://www.actup.org
  • [Event] Join the National Day of Protest! – Freedom from Debt Coalition
  • [Letter to the Editor] Reaction to DTI’s opposition to two labor legislation – CTUHR
  • [In the news] Bukdinon Lumad farmers decry killing of Higaonon farmer – http://www.mindanews.com
  • [From the web] For PAL Workers,an appeal….and for those People who care – by Sarah Bonnin Ocampo
  • [In the news] Lacson wants reexamination of ZTE deal – http://www.philstar.com
  • [in the news] Youth militants protest oil price hikes in Davao – http://www.sunstar.com.ph
  • [In the news] Church asks Pinoys around the world to pray for peace – GMAnews.tv
  • [In the news] Slain farmer’s kin seek arrest of 6 suspects – Inquirer.net
  • [Press Release] Women workers chide bishops for celebrating withdrawal of UN funding on family planning – Partido ng Manggagawa
  • [In the news] PHL economy slows down, posts 3.4% GDP growth in Q2 – GMAnews.tv
  • [In the news] Transport groups paralyze Southern Luzon over oil price hikes- InterAksyon.com
  • [In the news] CHR probes PMA hazing caught on video | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features
  • [In the news] Eyewitness wary of Maguindanao cops’ links to Ampatuans – GMAnews.tv
  • [In the news] Bayan demands P8-P9 oil price rollback – InterAksyon.com
  • [In the news] Palparan aide denies hand in activists’ abduction | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features
  • [In the news] QC informal settlers resist demolition; negotiations ongoing – Inquirer.net
  • [In the news] Miriam: Int’l court has no jurisdiction over Arroyo, Ampatuan cases – GMAnews.tv

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

[From the web] Protecting human rights of older persons – www.un.org

Protecting human rights of older persons
http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/2011/august/feature.shtml#fea1
by DESA
Department of Economic and Social Affairs

The world’s population aged 60 or older is expected to double by 2050, to a record of 21 per cent – representing two billion people. Member States are expressing concerns about the status of older persons revolving around their social and economic situation, their participation in development and their relationship to human rights.

There is a call for increasing the visibility on the world agenda on the issue of human rights protection for older persons. In December 2010, the General Assembly established an open ended working group open to all Members States of the UN with the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights for older persons and identifying possible gaps and how best to address them, including more instruments and measures (resolution A/RES/65/182).

Furthermore, the aim is to perceive older persons as active members of society and not only recipients of charity and welfare. It should also be noted that at age 80, women outnumber men by two to one, and are the most vulnerable, facing more social stereotypes, participating less in society and benefiting from fewer available opportunities.

Read full article @ www.un.org
For more information:
http://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/secondsession.shtml <http://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/secondsession.shtml&gt;

[Statement] Enforced Disappearance is Anti-Life… No to Untold Sufferings…. Sign and Ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance! – AFAD

Enforced Disappearance is Anti-Life…
No to Untold Sufferings….
Sign and Ratify the UN Convention
for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance!

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances joins all families of the disappeared persons around the world in the commemoration of the International Week of the Disappeared from May 26 to June 1. This week of the desaparecidos was first commemorated by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM) more than a couple of decades ago.

In the observance of this occasion, AFAD affirms the right of every person to life, liberty and dignity and therefore, the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance. The essential value of one’s existence is to live freely without discrimination, prejudices and harm. Enforced disappearance does not only violate these basic human rights by physically removing a person from the protection of the law but it also denies the families of the disappeared persons the right to know the truth and to seek justice.

Enforced disappearance is a global phenomenon. It has been occurring everywhere – down the street, in the barrios, in the upland, on the highway, in the woods, in the desert, at the border, and even in the household. In many points of the globe, there are people who are made to disappear for exercising their rights and for opposing against human rights violations. It is done mostly in the context of widespread and systematic way under a climate of impunity where the perpetrators are free to do what they want without accountability. Asia is now considered the graveyard of the desaparecidos for having submitted the most number of cases to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in recent years.

The disappearance of every person brings terrible sorrows and sufferings to his or her family. The long and agonizing search for the victims’ whereabouts usually ends in fruitless undertaking. The normal life that their families used to have is now shattered by emotional and psychological devastation, economic dislocation, uncertainty… Their lives are even at risk for having to undergo the same fate that their loved ones succumbed for seeking truth, justice, redress and reparation.

But the families of the disappeared refuse to give in to fear. They know that their disappeared loved ones’ only hope to return alive and to find truth and justice is for them to be strong and united. Their faith is as clear as the light at the end of the tunnel and as bright as the rainbow after every rain.

The adoption of International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Disappearance by the United Nations General Assembly on the 20th of December 2006 sparked a ray of hope for the families of the disappeared. To date, however, only four countries in Asia have affixed their signatures to the Convention. Asia, being the continent which submitted a huge number of cases to the United Nations needs the ratification by its governments of this new treaty and to pass domestic laws criminalizing enforced disappearance.

The International Week of the Disappeared is an expression of solidarity of all families of desaparecidos of the world. It is a celebration of life to honor the historical memory of those who have given their lives for the ransom of many. It is a renewal of commitment of the families of the disappeared and all human rights advocates to keep on the struggle against enforced disappearances and impunity until the dawning of the day when there are no more desaparecidos.

On this occasion, families of the disappeared call for an end to their untold sufferings brought about by this anti-life instrument used to silence their beloved desaparecidos. Despite their physical absence, the desaparecidos refuse to be silenced. For indeed, the perpetrators have miserably failed to silence them by physically eliminating their victims. As we commemorate the International Week of the Disappeared, we reiterate that the desaparecidos remain ever present in our minds and hearts.

Enforced disappearance is anti-life…
No to untold sufferings…
Ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance!

Signed:

MUGIYANTO                                                                          MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Chairperson                                                                                    Secretary-General

[From the web] Speech of President Benigno S. Aquino III on the forum of the AFAD and FIND, May 4, 2011 (delivered by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima)

Mr. Noynoy Aquino

Image via Wikipedia

Posted in afadsecretariat.wordpress.com.

I would like to thank the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD), the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and the Embassy of France in Manila for inviting me to be with you today. As you are all well aware, His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III, was also invited to grace today’s event and give a response to the presentation of our distinguished guest speaker, Professor Gabriella Citroni. However, it is with great regret that the President is not able to be here today to personally deliver his message, in light of previous commitments. He did, nonetheless, ask me to represent him and deliver this message. It is my honor and pleasure to do so, in my capacity as both the representative of the President and as Secretary of Justice.

Allow me to begin by pointing out an important anthropological phenomenon in the history of mankind – our penchant for stories and for storytelling. Experts have pointed out mankind’s capacity and love for storytelling as an imperative characteristic that distinguishes humans from baser creatures of nature. In fact, it is theorized as being one proof of the existence of the so-called “psychic unity of mankind” because, regardless of race, age, gender, religion, social status, etc., everyone loves to hear stories.

Once a story is begun, very few things in this world are more frustrating than having the telling abruptly cut-off. This frustration springs from something much deeper than just leaving one’s curiosity unsatisfied. When a story is started, each member of the audience, to a certain degree, becomes personally invested in seeing it unfold to the very end. Just imagine being in a movie house, in the middle of watching an engaging, perhaps even suspenseful film, when the power suddenly goes out or something else happens to interrupt the showing. I don’t know what people in other countries do, but here, in the Philippines, the audience almost immediately begins to get restless – clapping their hands, stomping their feet and making catcalls in the general direction of the projector room in the apparent hope of getting someone to solve whatever technical difficulties might be the cause of the sudden interruption.

Such is the strong and immediate reaction to an interrupted story.   Imagine, therefore, the scale of the frustration, the torture – nay, the horror –when what is interrupted, when what is silenced, when what is abruptly left unfinished is more than just the telling of a story, but a life. Imagine the panic, the clamor for answers when a loved one is there one moment, but inexplicably gone the next – without definitive clues to indicate what has become their fate.

These are uncomfortable questions to face; unthinkable prospects to contemplate. Yet, the true horror is that some of us present here today, the families of victims of involuntary disappearance, need not imagine what it would be like for they live the Lives of the Interrupted every single day of their lives, with no foreseeable end in sight.

Perhaps this is the reason why the cause of the Desaparecidos and the families they left behind resonates universally. So much so that, not only is there a universal condemnation of “Enforced Disappearance” as a governmental tool to attain the utter submission, repression and silence of political opposition and dissent, there has been, for several decades now, and particularly in the last several years, a resounding call from the so-called “Parliament of Man” – the United Nations – to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the “ICPAPED”).

The salient features, the grave importance, the continuing relevance and the significance of universal signing and ratification of the ICPAPED has been thoroughly discussed by Professor Citroni, who was herself a member of the Italian delegation to the United Nations Intersessional Working Group to Elaborate a Draft Legally-Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. We could not have found a more dedicated, more knowledgeable and, best of all, more involved person in the Philippine Enforced Disappearance experience than Prof. Citroni herself. She has not only made the success of the ICPAPED a personal and professional goal, she has also made a point of familiarizing herself with the Filipinos’ intricate and emotional history with this human rights problem.

Thus, in acknowledgment of her efforts and the value of her contributions – not just to the body of international human rights instruments and laws, but also to the Filipinos’ understanding and awareness of this problem – the government of the Republic of the Philippines now goes on record to state that the pleas and appeals for the Philippines’s signing of ratification of ICPAPED has not fallen on deaf ears.

We are well aware of the efforts it has taken to even get the ICPAPED to enter into force, which it did so only last year, on 23 December 2010, or more than four (4) years after it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, upon ratification by the twentieth State, which happened to be Iraq. Now, although eighty-eight (88) have signed, only about twenty-five (25) have ratified thus far. Other nations have even gone as far as to communicate that they have no intention of becoming a party to the Convention.

On the part of the Philippine government, on the other hand, we are aware of our on-going commitment to positively rescue this human rights issue. Though we have not signed or become a party to the ICPAPED as yet, our efforts to combat and eradicate the same speak for our sincerity on this matter. The Aquino administration has, in fact, made an administrative policy of leading and governing with transparency by actively seeking or, at least, welcoming participation from all sectors in governance. Silencing the voices of opposition and of critics is not the way we govern or lead, and repression has no place in our government.

The real credit, however, goes to the Filipino people themselves who, in the last national election, decisively voted to put an end to the reign of domestic and institutionalized mechanisms of terror employed by a regime that cultivated a culture of impunity: the Filipino people, instead, put their faith in a new regime that vows to recognize and revitalize the rule of law.

Admittedly, we have not, in the less than one year we have been in office, been able to totally eradicate acts of repression, which resulted in a number of extrajudicial killings and suspected incidents of enforced disappearance in the last ten (10) months. These incidents are usually prevalent in vulnerable areas, particularly in the Southern part of the country, or areas characterized by the reign of local strongmen or political clans, or highly contested political rivalries among such clans. We are, therefore, aware that further efforts are required to fully address these issues.

At this point, however, we are concentrating on internal or domestic changes, which includes improving our electoral system, – by ensuring that the sovereignty and will of the people prevail over the use of guns, goons and gold. Only by truly empowering our people by making the exercise of the universal right of suffrage truly meaningful can we ensure that the observance of human rights as a policy is not left to the whims of government power.

Another approach is to ensure that institutions, which are Constitutionally mandated to keep in line high-ranking officials of government – both elected and otherwise – are adequately supported, empowered, and adequately armed with firm leadership. With the recent vacancy in the Office of the Ombudsman, we now have the opportunity to appoint someone of unimpeachable integrity and political will as the new anti-corruption watchdog of the people. Sustained vigilance, and the guarantee that every wrong action will be dealt with by the swift and firm hand of justice should be enough to keep the acts of government, particularly of law enforcement and military elements, firmly within the bounds of law.

We are firmly aware, therefore, that a three-pronged response is expected of us: first, one that deals with the past – by doing what we can to bring closure and justice for desaparecidos and the families they left behind; second, one that deals with the present – and improves our present response to incidents of enforced disappearance, which – although have radically or dramatically decreased in the past 10 months – may still have not been completely avoided; and, third, one that lays the foundation for adequate mechanisms to maintain, and even improve, human rights protection in the future – which includes complete eradication of incidents of enforced disappearance.

All these we are attempting to address now – not just because we feel a duty to stand as one with our allies in the international community, who clearly feel strongly about seeing to the universal accession to the ICPAPED – but, most importantly, because we recognize the problem of enforced disappearance as a domestic, even personal, issue that requires our categorical response. After all, the present leadership of the Noynoy Aquino administration has been shaped by the events of the last half century, constituting the Philippines’s most recent political history, characterized by its own share of human rights debacles and, yes, even bloodshed.

As the kind of leader he is, therefore, and in light of his origins, it is the intent of the President to heal our country – our human rights situation – from within; to come to our being based on our own experiences and the lessons we’ve learned in the past. Part of the process, no doubt, would eventually lead us to arrive at a consensus with the rest of the world in matters that are as universal as human rights concerns. But change must start from within the Philippines. Only then can we make meaningful contributions to the body of international knowledge, norms, instruments and laws dealing with matters of universal concern.

We assure the families of the desaparecidos, and the desaparecidos themselves, wherever they may be, that they have no stauncher ally than the Aquino administration. We wish for their interrupted lives to go back on track, for their stories to be told – right up to their ending.  Not just to afford closure or justice, but because that is but consistent with respect for the human dignity, and what each human being deserves. As Secretary of Justice, I commit to continue to push for the ratification of the ICPAPED.

I distinctly recall that one of the first events I attended, in my first few months as then Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, was the launching of AFAD’s publication, entitled “Reclaiming Stolen Lives”. That is precisely an example of how people’s penchant and affinity for the art of storytelling is closely linked with the issue of enforced disappearance. That book, “Reclaiming Stolen Lives”, is a prime example of how families and advocates have endeavored to keep victims’ stories alive; to ensure that they are remembered long enough to ensure that, perhaps, one day, their ultimate fates would finally be known, and the final chapter of their lives can finally be written or told – hopefully, with the resounding sound of the gavel signaling that justice will finally be done.

Rest assured that we are all on the same page on this matter. No one here would deny how abhorrent the practice of enforced disappearance is – it sows terror, the kind attached to the unknown. Families cannot properly mourn, they are left wondering. There is no closure, and practically no hope of ever seeing their loved ones again. We know this, we understand it, and you have our commitment to drive this practice to extinction.

The story of our collective struggle for freedom is echoed in the mixed lament and hope of our national hero, Jose Rizal, who spoke of those who fought for liberty but who could tragically die before the break of dawn. Each of us has the right to live in daylight—as free men and women, unmolested as we go about our daily lives. Let us fight the darkness. Let us live in the daylight.

Thank you, once again, for giving me the opportunity to share this message on behalf of the leader of the Executive Department of government, the leader of the Filipino people.

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