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August 30th 2009 - International Day of the Disappeared

John O | 12.08.2009 14:19 | Repression | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | World

The International Day of the Disappeared is a reminder that hundreds of thousands of families are still unaware of the fate of their loved ones missing in conflicts.

UK is not a signatory to the *'International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance'. The government is still considering all the legal ramifications of signature and ratification. In parliamentary debates Foreign Office ministers have reiterated that the UK has a policy of only signing a Convention if they have a commitment to ratify it within twelve months.

The International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) wants to put pressure on the UK government to sign and ratify the Convention for the following reasons:

* The ratification of the Convention would constitute an unmistakable signal that the government is committed to ensuring that enforced disappearances will not be tolerated.

* Signature and ratification of the Convention would provide protection for all British citizens anywhere in the world from enforced disappearance. Moreover, it would provide those victims and families of victims with the means to seek justice on their own behalf or on behalf of their loved ones.

* The problem of enforced disappearance is a global one. A global problem can only be countered with a strongly supported global solution.

* Signature and ratification of the Convention would improve the government's human rights legacy.

* The Convention would allow the UK government to address the matter of enforced disappearance carried out by other countries through the universal jurisdiction provision in the Convention.

* Finally, the Convention would put in place measures that would prevent the practice of enforced disappearance on UK soil.

In recent years there have been claims of UK complicity in rendition, secret detention and enforced disappearance of individuals in the context of counter-terrorism.

What ICAED want from the government of the UK
For the UK government to sign and ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance with no limiting reservations, in doing so sending a clear signal of their commitment to human rights internationally.

You can take action
ICAED ask you to E-mail/Fax/write a letter to the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw at the Justice Ministry. Model letter ICAED-JS.doc attached, which you can copy/amend, write your own version.

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
Fax: 020 3334 3668 from outside the UK ~ + 44 20 3334 3668

Amnesty International
"You could be taken at any time, day or night. You might be at home, at work or traveling on the street. Your captors may be in uniform or civilian clothes. They forcibly take you away, giving no reason, producing no warrant. Your relatives desperately try to find you, going from one police station or army camp to the next. The officials deny having arrested you or knowing anything about your whereabouts or fate. You have become a victim of enforced disappearance.

"Enforced disappearance is a grave human rights violation and a crime. Amnesty International defines an enforced disappearance as the detention of someone by the state or its agents, when the authorities deny that the victim is in custody or conceal what has happened to them. Enforced disappearances have occurred across the world - in Sri Lanka, Russia, El Salvador, Morocco, Iraq, Thailand, Pakistan, Bosnia, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt and Argentina, to name a few. No one is immune; victims have included men, women and children.

"An enforced disappearance violates the rights of both the disappeared person and their relatives. Disappeared persons are denied the right to a proper arrest and to a fair trial. They may be tortured, detained in poor conditions and eventually killed. The relatives of the disappeared persons suffer anguish every day, not knowing what has happened to their loved one; they are victims, too. They often encounter social isolation, with relatives and neighbors being too afraid to offer aid or support. If the disappeared person was the main breadwinner for the family, they can also suffer economic hardship.

*'The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance' is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations and intended to prevent forced disappearance. The text was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2006 and opened for signature on 6 February 2007. As of July 2009, 81 states have signed, and thirteen have ratified. It will come into force when ratified by 20 states-parties.

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message
International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances
Amnesty International

John O
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