Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
The year 2005 will soon end with AFAD’s deep sense of fulfillment over the approval of the text of United Nations Draft International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Together with other organizations of families of the disappeared, AFAD celebrates the well-deserved victory. It was the greatest achievement of the international movement against involuntary disappearances of which AFAD is an integral part.
For the Asian families of the disappeared, there can be no other apt response to the continuing phenomena of enforced or involuntary disappearances in the region than the approval of the Convention’s text by the United Nations inter-sessional open-ended Working Group to draft a Legally-Binding Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. AFAD, who bore the brunt of persecution of its own human rights defenders, continues to work in the context of Asia’s intensifying human rights violations.
What has AFAD done during the year in order to concretize the three components of its work, e.g. lobby; campaign and public information; solidarity? Administratively, what was the situation that contributed to and/or hindered the Federation’s attainment of its mission, vision and goals?
I. ASIAN SITUATION
Significant strides in the past several years have been achieved in the context of popularizing human rights, especially in the campaign against enforced or involuntary disappearance.
In 2000 for instance, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights formally established an Inter-Sessional Open-Ended Working Group to Elaborate a Draft Legally-Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances so as to expedite the study, review and eventual adoption of the UN Draft Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
For its part, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) held its formal 75 TH session in May 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand. The first session to be held in Asia, such a decision was prompted by the growing concern over the sheer number of cases of enforced disappearance in Asia. Hence, such a move on the UNWGEID was both a deft diplomatic gesture and a slight reproach directed against the governments here in Asia which have dismissed the scourge of enforced disappearance as a purely Latin American phenomenon.
The said session also spawned a new global campaign for the immediate adoption of the above-mentioned UN Draft Convention dubbed as Convention Now! AFAD, as a federation of organizations of family members of desaparecidos support this campaign and is actively promoting its set objectives. But these tentative though highly significant victories are no excuse for us to rest on our laurels and throw caution to the wind. For even as this piece is being written, disappearances continue to occur in the Asian continent which now has the highest number of cases of enforced disappearance. Worse, even human rights workers are put in harm’s way, experiencing various threats and intimidations, sometimes leading to the loss of lives.
The first half of the year 2004 has been a very challenging period for the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). Challenging in the sense that while the phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearances remain unresolved and continue unabated especially in Kashmir, India and Indonesia, many untoward incidents occurred which affected AFAD.