South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) joins human rights activists around the World in commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared.
The practice by State actors of forcibly disappearing and illegally detaining someone, without acknowledging their arrest or whereabouts, places the victim outside the protection of the law and is often linked to the crimes of torture and extra-judicial killings.
Enforced disappearance is a particularly terrible crime as it not only violates several human rights of the victim – including the right to security and dignity of person, and the right to a fair trial – but also those of the victim’s family.
The crime of enforced disappearances is one that is prevalent in all South Asian states, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and in Kashmir and North East of India, where disappearances take place across both political and ethnic lines.
While the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances is a relatively recent convention, being drafted in 2006, only 91 countries have signed it and just over one-third (32) have ratified the convention. These numbers are even more disappointing in South Asia, with India being the only signatory to the convention, but has taken no steps to ratify it.
SAHR hopes that campaigns by families of the disappeared and human rights organisations who work to combat this crime, will lead to the practice being codified as a crime in the national penal codes and the perpetrators held accountable, in South Asia. Furthermore, that the South Asian States take more deliberate steps to sign and also ratify the convention towards prohibiting this crime.
SAHR stands with its fellow South Asian citizens in urging a region-wide rejection of the practice of enforced disappearances, particularly as part of counter-terrorism measures by the States and greater adherence to international standards of law, in an effort to end the impunity for enforced disappearances.
On behalf of South Asians for Human Rights,
Hina Jilani Nimalka Fernando