By Mary Aileen D. Bacalso
Focal Person, International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances
His Excellency the French Ambassador to Geneva, Mr. Nicolas Niemtchinow, Chairperson, Chair of the UN Committee Against Enforced Disappearances, Mr. Emmanuel Decaux, Chair of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances , Mr. Olivier de Frouville, panellist Hugo Relva, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Committee on Enforced Disappearances Participates in an Event Organized by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances participated this morning in an event marking the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which was organized by the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances to explore best practices and challenges to protect women from enforced disappearances.
Opening the event, Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, acknowledged the particular impact of enforced disappearances on women and said that it was important not to consider women solely as victims; many had played a central role in the fight against enforced disappearances and in bringing this heinous phenomenon to the attention of the international community.
AFAD Statement on the 22nd Anniversary of the Monument of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) conveys its solidarity with the families, relatives and friends of the disappeared in Sri Lanka during its 22nd commemoration of remembering and honoring the disappeared at the Monument of the Disappeared in Seeduwa-Raddolugama junction, District of Gampaha (Western Province). This gathering is an important occasion for the relatives and friends of the disappeared to seek strength from each other in their continued search for truth and justice for their disappeared loved ones.
This is also an occasion to remind the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa of his duty to protect the human rights of its people amidst continuing rampant cases of disappearances in the country. The President, in the late 1998, was then the Minister of Fisheries. As guest speaker of the gathering of the disappeared, he made a promise at The Monument that when he becomes President, disappearances will not be allowed. Obviously, this promise has been totally forgotten. Worse still, he was one of the champions of the disappeared and their families during the disappearances of the late 80s and the early 90s when he co-founded the then Organization of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (OPFMD). Ironically, during his administration as president of the country, disappearances continue unabated with each passing day.
A Huge Step Towards Ending Impunity
The Philippine Congress has made a huge step in instituting legal measures for better human rights protection as conferees from both chambers of the Philippine Congress ratified on 16 October 2012 the bicameral report on reconciled bill which will very soon become the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.
The Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances in the Asian region, hails the firm resolve of the members of the Philippine Congress for finally heeding to the call of the families and relatives of the victims who, for almost two decades, have been lobbying the Philippine Congress to criminalize and penalize the act of enforced disappearance and eventually put an end to this odious practice.