AFAD's Statement on the Anniversary of the Signing of the Convention
Respect the Right Not to Be Disappeared
February 6, 2008 – A year ago, 57 member-states of the United Nations signed the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. A fruit of persistent and tireless struggle of the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared – Detainees (FEDEFAM) and later by the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and other similar formations of families of the disappeared from different continents and very ably complemented by the legal expertise of international organizations and individual experts and key actors, the final text of the Convention saw the light of day on September 23, 1995. Lest we forget, we owe this fast negotiation process to the profound commitment and extraordinary diplomatic adeptness of the late Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian who chaired the then Inter-Sessional Working Group to Elaborate a Draft Legally-Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
The Convention, which provides for the right to truth and the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearances, guarantees non repetition of the crime. Owing to the continuing nature of enforced disappearances, it, in fact, facilitates the resolution of past cases.
At no other time than now that the Convention's entry into force is more than ever an urgent concern. This is especially so that the number of cases of this heinous crime is increasing as per recent reports of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Yet, with the 72 signatories and 2 ratifications, the Convention's enforcement is far from sight.
While we relish every reason to celebrate for having reached 72 signatories and two ratifications, AFAD has every reason to worry for the slow turn of signatories and ratifications in its own region where cases are most rampant. The imperative of more Asian governments' support and ratification is a cause for intensive and extensive lobbying in the Asian region. This litany of cases ever increasing with each passing day, the incessant cry of the families of the victims for truth, justice, redress and memory and very importantly the inspiration of the desaparecidos – all these urge AFAD to persevere in the campaign for signatures and ratification and the enactment of domestic laws to ensure implementation.
The late His Excellency Bernard Kessedjian, in his words to AFAD in its book
" Healing Wounds, Mending Scars," to wit: The international community stands up against enforced disappearances and acknowledges that this unbearable practice violates all human rights and even denies the identity of the disappeared while planning oblivion. We have the duty to prevent this in the future, to restore the hope of truth of families and to bring victims back to life in our collective memory. This is part of the ongoing fight against barbarism." No tribute to this great man could be more apt than ensuring the Convention's entry into force and its implementation in as many countries as possible.
On this first anniversary of the signing of the Convention, we reiterate:
Stop Enforced Disappearances! Convention Now!
Signed and authenticated by:
MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Chairperson AFAD Secretary-General AFAD