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IKOHI

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Open Letter on Convention against Disappearances

AFAD
Rms. 310-311, Philippine Social Science Center (PSSC), Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: 00-63-4546759 * cellular phone: 0063-91779244058 * E-mail: afad@surfshop.net.ph

OPEN LETTER TO THE
MEMBERS OF THE UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Honorable Members to the United Nations Human Rights Council,

First and foremost, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) congratulates you for your election to this newly established body of the United Nations. Together with the global human rights community and the rest of the peoples of the world, we are looking upon this body with high expectations in as far as global promotion and defense of human rights are concerned.

Our Federation, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, was formed eight years ago as an organizational response to the alarming phenomena of enforced or involuntary disappearances in Asia. As we all know, the Asian continent has reported the biggest number of cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances based on the latter’s recent reports. Making the situation worse, there are no human rights mechanisms in our region where victims can use to obtain justice and redress.

For these reasons, since we began our Federation, we had been cooperating with our sisters and brothers in Latin America in lobbying for an international treaty protecting persons from enforced or involuntary disappearances. We had been actively involved in all the sessions of the then United Nations 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. The finalization of the text on September 22, 2005, which was made possible through the very capable leadership of French Ambassador His Excellency Bernard Kessedjian, was one of the most cherished victories garnered by the families of the disappeared in the world of which families of the disappeared in our continent are an integral part.

Families of the disappeared in our region have been worried that the draft Convention was not adopted by the then United Nations Commission on Human Rights last April. But we are also pleased that the former Commission bequeathed to this body the task of adopting the Draft International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Moreover, we are satisfied that the adoption of the Convention is part of the important agenda of this Council. The speech of United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, urging this body to adopt without delay the draft treaty on disappearances and the support of a number of governments for the Convention all the more makes us optimistic that this important international instrument be adopted by this body during its historic first session.

In the name of the families of the disappeared in Asia, may we therefore appeal, once again to all of you to adopt without a vote the United Nations Draft Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. The families of the disappeared, who suffer the painful consequences of disappearance, deserve no less than the adoption by this newly established Human Rights Council of the United Nations during its historic session. If adopted, this will never ever be forgotten in the history of the global struggle against enforced or involuntary disappearances. For certain, it will in no small measure, contribute to the non-repetition of this crime against humanity.

CONVENTION NOW! RESPECT THE RIGHT NOT TO BE DISAPPEARED!

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IKOHI was set up on September 17, 1998 by the parents and surfaced victims of disappearances. Since then, IKOHI was assisted by KONTRAS, until October 2002 when finally IKOHI carried out it first congress to complete its organizational structure. In the Congress, IKOHI decided its two priority of programs. They are (1) the empowerment of the social, economic, social and cultural potential of the members as well as mental and physical, and (2) the campaign for solving of the cases and preventing the cases from happening again. The solving of the cases means the reveal of the truth, the justice for the perpetrators, the reparation and rehabilitation of the victims and the guarantee that such gross violation of human right will never be repeated again in the future.

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