10 February 2006
62nd session of the Commission on Human Rights
Written statement by FIACAT under point 11 b)
The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) welcomes the completion of the work of the Intersessional Open-Ended Working Group to draft a legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance, a group set up by the Commission on Human Rights in 2002.
The draft International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance which has now been submitted to the Commission on Human Rights results from a consensus. The government delegations, experts, non-governmental organisations and, in particular, the associations of the families of those who have disappeared are convinced of the importance and urgency of this consensus.
Furthermore, the text as it stands today could never have been adopted without the commitment of everyone, from the chairman of the Working Group down, and without continual reminders of what the victims and their families are living through day by day, so that the problems of enforced disappearance and all their implications could be taken into account.
It is important and encouraging that those countries which have had regimes that set up systems of enforced disappearance and which have recently managed to accept responsibility for them have made an enormous contribution to the adoption of a text forceful enough to deal with such crimes and able to prevent their ever being committed again.
Among the most important points of the draft Convention to which FIACAT wishes to draw attention are :
The definition of enforced disappearance, based on three criteria ;
The absolute ban on enforced disappearance and on secret detention ;
The possibility of deeming enforced disappearance a crime against humanity ;
The specific mention of violations by persons or groups of persons acting without the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the State ;
An independent "Committee on Enforced Disappearances" working with the other bodies concerned, whose mandate entitles it to receive information, to take urgent action and, if necessary, to travel to the location concerned, addressing violations of civil or political, economic, social or cultural rights ;
A range of measures enabling preventive or repressive action to be taken, impunity to be denounced and, if necessary, the matter to be brought to the attention of General Assembly of the United Nations ;
The absolute right to obtain reparation,
The right for the children of those subjected to enforced disappearance to recover their identity ;
The right for the family of the victims to know the truth.
It is now the responsibility of the Commission on Human Rights to set its seal on all the work accomplished and to propose that the Economic and Social Council adopt the Convention, with a view to subsequent adoption by the General Assembly.
It is time to fulfil the wish expressed by the World Conference on Human Rights, in its final declaration in June 1993, followed by the Sub-Commission on Human Rights (UN) in 1998, that a binding legal instrument be drafted to follow on from the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance adopted by the General Assembly in December 1992 (A/RES/47/133).
It is time for the victims and their families to be able to state their case in full and to be protected by the international community. It is time for the families of those who have disappeared to be heard everywhere in the world when they say "Never again".