Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Congress urged to swiftly pass Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill

Source: March 29, 2011 by Human Rights Online Philippines
by Jerbert Briola

The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) urged Congress to pass a bill that would punish those responsible for enforced disappearances.

“We hope that through this, justice will be served to the families of disappeared,” FIND Secretary General Wilma Q. Tizon said, as the group welcomed the support of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago for the enactment of anti-enforced disappearance law.

Stressing the urgency of having a national law that would make enforced or involuntary disappearance a criminal offense, Defensor-Santiago filed Senate Bill No. 1455 entitled “An Act Defining and Penalizing Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance”. http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/89517494!.pdf
At the House of Representatives, House Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman filed House Bill No. 98 entitled “An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance” http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/basic_15/HB00098.pdf which is pending with the House Committee on Justice.

Lagman is the honorary chairperson of FIND, and the brother of political activist Hermon Lagman who disappeared during the Martial Law era and labor leader Filemon “Popoy” Lagman who was assassinated in 2001.

Under the bill, enforced disappearance also consider as a continuing offense as long as the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared person have not been determined with certainty, Tizon added.

FIND counted as of February 28, 2011, out of the 2,148 reported cases of involuntary disappearance, 1,799 were documented by the organization.

The Marcos regime registered the highest cases of involuntary disappearance with 861, followed by Aquino with 614, Ramos with 93, Estrada with 58, Arroyo with 170 and B. Aquino III with 3 cases.  Of the 1,799 cases documented by FIND, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) registered the highest number of involvement in enforced disappearance cases with 1,056.

“We are hoping that other legislators follow suit and come out with favorable responses on the enactment of anti-enforced disappearance law,” Tizon said.

Tizon also reminded President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Senate to immediately sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disappearance.htm

The ratification of the Convention will facilitate the enactment of national legislation criminalizing enforced disappearances and ensure the implementation of the provision of the treaty mandating each State party to enact a domestic law penalizing enforced disappearance.-JB

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