Action on Resolution on Convention on Protection from Enforced Disappearance
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted by consensus the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and recommended that the General Assembly adopt the treaty.
In a resolution (A/HRC/1/L.2), entitled International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by consensus, the Human Rights Council: adopts the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as annexed to the resolution; recommends to the General Assembly adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; recommends that, once adopted by the General Assembly, the Convention be opened for signature at a signing ceremony in Paris; and recommends to the General Assembly adoption of the following draft resolution:
“The General Assembly, taking note of Human Rights Council resolution 2006/… dated 29 June 2006, by which the Council adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, hails the Council’s adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; adopts and opens for signature, ratification and accession the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the text of which is annexed to this resolution; and recommends that the Convention be opened for signature at a signing ceremony in Paris.”
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance affirms the right of any victim to know the truth about the circumstances of an enforced disappearance, and the fate of the disappeared person, and the right to freedom to seek, receive and impart information to this end. It states that no one should be subjected to enforced disappearance. Each State party should take appropriate measures to ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes an offence under its criminal law. The widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity as defined in applicable international law and shall attract the consequences provided for under such applicable international law. Each State party shall make the offence of enforced disappearance punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account its extreme seriousness.
JORGE TAIANA (Argentina), in a general comment, said that this was an historic moment for the cause of human rights when they had before them for approval the draft International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. That draft had been developed by States, also with the input of non-governmental organizations and that of victims and their families. The Council was moving to a new stage in the promotion and protection of human rights. Argentina hoped that the declaration would be adopted by consensus and acclamation. The new era for human rights that had begun with the Human Rights Council could not start in a more appropriate or auspicious way than by adopting the convention. Finally, Argentina wished to salute all the human rights defenders present today, in particular those from Argentinean human rights organizations, including that of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
CARLA RODRIGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala), in a general comment, said Guatemala supported the draft resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Guatemala, since the signing of the peace agreement, had been working to elucidate cases of disappearances that took place during the civil war. The Government was also making further efforts to trace the victims and to bring to justice the perpetrators. The authorities were also making everything possible to provide compensation to the families of the victims. VESA HIMANEN (Finland), in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union would like to call for the adoption by consensus of the draft International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Working Group had received 523 new cases in 2005 from 22 countries. This year again, more than 500 families around the world were tortured by the terrible question of what had happened to their loved ones. The issue of enforced disappearances had been at the heart of the work of the Commission for more than five decades. In 1992, the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted by the General Assembly, but the problem had remained. There were high hopes for the Council. It had the duty of making recommendations to the General Assembly for developments in the field of international law in human rights. It was hoped the adoption of this convention would bring to a fruitful end the work of the Commission, and contribute to the enhancing of the protection of human rights. Families of victims had appreciated the work done in the Commission, and the Council should hear their voices as well. The Council should live up to the expectations of all those who needed a new convention to put an end to this odious crime. The Member States should adopt this resolution by consensus.
MANUEL RODRIGUEZ CUADROS (Peru), in a general comment, said that the fact that in this room they had one of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, added special symbolic value to the memory of all of those who were victims of enforced disappearance as they prepared to adopt this International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Enforced disappearance was one of the most serious crimes. It had the element of multiplicity and progressivism included within it, as enforced disappearance did not happen singly, but was associated with collectivity. It was also associated with torture. The Human Rights Council, wisely complying with the decisions taken by the Commission on Human Rights as it concluded its historic cycle, would now adopt decisions that were before it as part of that legacy.
Peru urged all delegations to accede immediately, as soon as it was available to them to do so, to the convention in Paris. Peru hoped that the convention would be adopted unanimously by consensus.
HIROSHI MINAMIAL (Japan), in a general statement, said the delegation of Japan supported the draft resolution as well as the draft convention. The Government of Japan interpreted article 2 of the draft convention that the definition of enforced disappearance consisted of four elements: an arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty; that such an act was committed by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State; that the act was followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person; and that the disappeared person was placed outside the protection of the law. Regarding article 4, Japan interpreted that article as meaning that enforced disappearance as stipulated in article 3 should be covered under its criminal law, but that article should not require Japan’s legal system to enact a law making an autonomous offence for enforced disappearance.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria), in a general comment, said it had fortunately come out of the black decade of the 1990s and had embarked on the path of democracy and the rule of law. It had embarked with fresh serenity on the path of national reconciliation, ensuring the widespread exercise of all human rights. Algeria was now forward looking, and said “never again”, and this applied also to the disappeared.
It was in this spirit that Algeria had expressed during the debate and presentation on the Convention the wish that it be adopted by consensus. The entire international community would help to contribute to this general improvement in the protection of persons throughout the world.
NICHOLAS THORNE (United Kingdom), in a general comment, said that the United Kingdom fully endorsed the general statement made by Finland on behalf of the European Union. The adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and its submission to the General Assembly would pave the way for the conclusion of this historic process. The United Kingdom also wished to pay tribute to those Members States, non-governmental organizations and families of victims that had contributed to this process.
In relation to article 2, the United Kingdom noted that the placing of a person outside the protection of the law was an important element of the definition of enforced disappearance. Accordingly, the United Kingdom understood article 20 to apply to all situations where a person was without the protection of the law. Article 43 was understood to confirm that a State party’s obligation under international law remained the lex specialis in situations of armed conflict and other situations to which international humanitarian law applied.
JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada), in a general comment, said Canada had long been committed to combating enforced disappearance. Canada had helped to establish the Working Group on enforced and involuntary disappearances, and supported the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. While Canada’s preference would have been to allocate effective monitoring functions to the Human Rights Committee, as being best placed to provide a comprehensive remedy to victims, Canada joined the consensus on the creation of a new body, and would contribute to its strengthening. Canada hoped that the new convention would provide additional protection from enforced disappearance and contribute to ending impunity for that grave human rights violation.
O. AMEER AJWAD (Sri Lanka), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Sri Lanka had joined in the consensus. The new instrument was widely considered as a major step in international human rights law, but, there was a lacuna in the text, as non-state actors who were involved in mass violations of human rights, were excluded from the text. This was an important fact of today’s world, which could not be ignored.
GALO LARENAS SERRANO (Ecuador), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that although Ecuador had expressed its support specifically for this draft resolution, it would have liked to have been able to co-sponsor the resolution. That had not been possible for logistical reasons. In article 7, paragraph 2 (a), Ecuador agreed it was proper to consider mitigating circumstances against perpetrators of these crimes. While admitting that possibility, however, that should not lead to impunity for such crimes.
[Source: UNOG, United Nations Office at Geneva official website, 29Jun06]
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