De Lima presses gov’t to ratify UN treaty on ‘enforced disappearance’

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the need for stronger mechanisms against enforced disappearance in the country amid the government’s apparent failure to seriously address the issue.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 969, De Lima urged Mr. Duterte to ratify the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) to strengthen access to justice and the right to effective remedy.

“It is clear that despite the enactment of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, thousands remain missing and possibly many of them already dead, without any effective and clear action plan from our government,” she said.

Based on official records, there are 1,996 reported documented cases of enforced disappearance in the Philippines, 1,165 of which are missing and 244 are found dead.

According to the former justice secretary, the UN Convention remains the only human rights treaty which the Philippines has not ratified, despite the existence of Republic Act 10353 or the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.”

She noted there was also an earlier issuance of Administrative Order No. 35 creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-legal killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons, but enforced disappearances continue to run rampant in the country.

Prior to the filing of the Senate resolution, UN treaty monitoring bodies, such as the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms Discrimination Against Women, the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Committee Against Torture, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have all expressly recommended for the Philippines to ratify the CED.

“In order to ensure that our citizens would have sufficient access to remedies, it behooves upon our government to provide alternative legal framework which provides certainty of obligations, sustainable mechanism for accountability, and stronger international support or cooperation for promotion,” she said.

In the third cycle of the Universal Period Review of the Philippines in 2017, nine States specifically recommended ratification of the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearance, while 15 States recommended investigation into enforced disappearances, added De Lima.

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