Pacific Scoop
Network

International Day of the Disappeared

Press Release – Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Amnesty International calls on the New Zealand Government to ratify the treaty and take a crucial step towards ending enforced disappearances worldwide Imagine waiting for your loved ones to come home one day, and imagine that day turning into the rest …

Media release
For immediate release
28 August 2009

2009 International Day of the Disappeared – a new Convention could make a difference to those searching for their loved ones

Amnesty International calls on the New Zealand Government to ratify the treaty and take a crucial step towards ending enforced disappearances worldwide

Imagine waiting for your loved ones to come home one day, and imagine that day turning into the rest of your life. Imagine waiting for them without knowing where they are, or even whether they are still alive. Imagine having knocked on every door to find out where they might be and not knowing what else to do. This is the life of family members of the disappeared in all regions of the world.

The International Day of the Disappeared, on Sunday 30 August, is a time to remember their struggle and demand justice.

“Hundreds of thousands of cases of enforced disappearance in countries such as Pakistan and Timor Leste remain unresolved while new cases are reported every year,” says Patrick Holmes, CEO of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Enforced disappearance continues to be used by governments to silence dissent and eliminate political opponents, to persecute ethnic, religious and political groups, and as a tool of repression. It is a crime that thrives on secrecy; it is designed to put its victims beyond the protection of the law, and to hide the identity of the perpetrators and the fate of the victims — many of whom are tortured or killed.”

The international community has a new tool to combat this scourge. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance — adopted in 2006, but not yet in force — could make a difference.

Only seven more ratifications are needed for this treaty to come into force, and give those searching for their loved ones a much needed lifeline. Before the UN General Assembly on November 13, 2006 New Zealand confirmed its support for this convention but it is yet to ratify it.

Amnesty International calls on the New Zealand Government to mark this year’s International Day of the Disappeared by making ratification of this treaty a priority and announcing when they will ratify.

“By taking action promptly, the New Zealand Government would be amongst the first 20 countries to ratify the Convention and instrumental to its entry into force,” says Holmes.

“The ratification of this Convention would send an unmistakable signal that New Zealand is committed to ending this gravest human rights violation,” he adds.

Note to editors
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance obliges states to ensure that enforced disappearances are a criminal offence under their laws, to protect witnesses and to hold any person involved in an enforced disappearance criminally responsible. It recognises the families’ right to know the truth and to obtain reparations. It requires states to prevent enforced disappearances by instituting stringent safeguards for people deprived of their liberty; to search for the disappeared person and, if they have died, to locate and return the remains. The Convention also requires states to prosecute alleged offenders present in their territory, regardless of where the crime was committed, or to extradite them to another state or surrender them to an international criminal court.

The 64th session of the UN General Assembly, due to open on 15 September 2009 in New York, and its annual treaty event will provide all governments with an opportunity to ratify or announce a commitment to ratify the Convention.

ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Original url