A Huge Step Towards Ending Impunity
The Philippine Congress has made a huge step in instituting legal measures for better human rights protection as conferees from both chambers of the Philippine Congress ratified on 16 October 2012 the bicameral report on reconciled bill which will very soon become the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.
The Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances in the Asian region, hails the firm resolve of the members of the Philippine Congress for finally heeding to the call of the families and relatives of the victims who, for almost two decades, have been lobbying the Philippine Congress to criminalize and penalize the act of enforced disappearance and eventually put an end to this odious practice.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) warmly congratulates the members and staff of Odhikar on your18th anniversary celebration! Your steadfast commitment in campaigning for justice, human rights and participatory governance despite constant threats is an inspiration to all of us!
Odhikar is the newest member of our Federation. For more than a year, it has, in no small measure, contributed to the strengthening of the Federation’s capacity to bring the voice of the victims of enforced disappearances in Asia before their respective governments and the international community. Its consistent in-depth reporting on human rights violations; its relentless advocacy for the cause of the disappeared and its extensive national, regional and international network are a source of inspiration to other members of our Federation in realizing our common vision to attain a world without disappeared persons.
On 10th October 2012 Odhikar marks its 18th anniversary. The day also happens to be the International Day against the Death Penalty1. As a human rights organisation Odhikar has been campaigning for justice and fair trial; and against the death penalty since its inception.
Established against the backdrop of the fall of the military dictatorship and restoration of democracy; Odhikar became a powerful network of human rights defenders in Bangladesh and earned its reputation as the unwavering watchdog of the people’s right to liberty, justice and participatory governance. Odhikar’s core commitments to uphold human rights and the rule of law; and to ensure people’s rights against discrimination, exploitation and impunity remain as relevant today as they were on the day of its initiation. Odhikar’s struggle started in 1994 and continues unabated. Needless to say, the condition under which the organisation is operating today is more challenging than eighteen years ago with the State becoming increasingly repressive.
Geneva -- The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently condemned Algeria in a case of enforced disappearance. In May 1996, Mr. Kamel Rakik, 33 years old, was arrested at his home, around 30 km from Algiers, by policemen of Algiers’ Wilaya. He was brought to the Chateauneuf Police officers school where he was tortured. He has not been seen since.
The Rakik family left no stone unturned in the quest to discover the whereabouts of their beloved ones. The case has been brought before all relevant judicial and administrative authorities. Yet no investigation has been opened and no one has ever been prosecuted.
In its decision, the Human Rights Committee holds that, because of the disappearance of Kamel Rakiki, Algeria breached several provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (one of the most important international conventions within the United Nations system), including the right to life and the right to be free from torture and other forms of ill-treatment. In doing so, Algeria also inflicted upon the family members of the disappeared person an inadmissible treatment through the severe mental distress and anguish they were forced to endure.