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IKOHI

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Remember Them Always

Remember them Always
AFAD Statement on the International Week of the Disappeared


Last March , many have been dismayed by the series of suspensions of the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as these led to the deferment of any urgent action on human rights issues including the formal adoption of our draft International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances .

The suspensions were brought forth by the UN General Assembly resolution establishing the new Human Rights Council which has now replaced the 6-year old UNCHR. All actions left hanging by the commission last March were passed on to the council for review, discussion and further deliberations.

The UNCHR was primarily abolished due to credibility deficit and inefficiency in implementing its functions and providing responses to the many human rights issues . The General Assembly aims to rid the commission of double standards and selectivity . The UNCHR has long been criticized for allowing gross human rights violators to sit in the Commission to protect themselves and their allies from scrutiny and punishment for their own human rights abuses.

Furthermore, according to the resolution issued on 15 March 2006 , the Council shall be guided by the principles of universality , impartiality , objectivity and non-selectivity , constructive dialogue and cooperation . These high ideals at first glance have given new hope to many in the world’s mission to purge institutions of unjust and corrupt politics . But as civil society took a closer look into these set standards , considering the council’s composition , there is every reason to doubt over the General Assembly’s action.

Countries with poor human rights records now sit in the Council. This runs contrary to the goal of having members who are fully committed to human rights who will contribute to upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights . China for one, according to Forum Asia study of the number of pledges and commitments made by candidates, has made no commitment at all.

An obstruction , thus, has again been created upon the election of these countrisw as well as other elected states which belong to the group of countires with poor human rights records and consistently undermined the human rights protection and monitoring mechanism of the now defunct UNCHR.

Consequently, concern has been raised regarding the status of the drafted Convention . The question of whether the text would be taken up by the Council on its session this coming June and finally adopt it or bin it and see 20 years of struggle go to waste , has moved many organizations to step up its campaign and lobbying efforts .


Early this month, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances has initiaited efforts to improve and intensify its lobbying skills and campaign early this month. It conducted a lobby training attended by AFAD members, it held a public forum on the convention and it launced the resource center which aims to build on the knowledge on disappearances and share it to the world .

While the forum and resource center launching aimed to increase awareness of the issue among the public , the training prepared AFAD members in campaigning and lobbying more governments to support the Convention considering only Japan in Asia has voiced out its positive response . AFAD gears up to ensure that the drafted text will not be neglected when the Council deleberates soon; to not let the resounding gavel of its approval last 22 September 2005 fade away but continue to echo a YES in its final adoption , ratification and implementation.

With these developments at hand , AFAD asks the human rights community around the world to heed the call for unity and strengthen its effort to pressure the governments especially members of the Council to not only uphold but ensure the highest standards of the promotion and protection of human rights .

AFAD challenges everyone to not give up on the set ideals , instead work more for its achievement. The fate of the Human Rights Council lies on everyone’s vigilance and commitment to truth and justice . Let us not allow it to fall into the pit of corrupted politics and double standards again.

As we commemorate the International Week of the Disappeared , let us not just remember our disappeared loved ones at this time but ALWAYS through our unfazed commitments to see the Convention adopted, ratified, and implemented soon. Let us pay tribute to their courage and sacrifice by putting an end to impunity now and in the future !

With you always in commitment and solidarity !





MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
AFAD Secretary General
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center, Commonwealth
Diliman, Quezon City . Philippines
Telefax: 00 632 4546759
Tel No. 00 632 9274594
Cel No. 0063 917 7924058
Email: afad@surfshop.net.ph
Website: www.afad-online.org

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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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