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.