ASIA: Enforced Disappearances Continue With Zero Accountability and Blanket Impunity

An Oral Statement to the 51st Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)

Mr. Vice President:

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) welcomes the comprehensive report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) and appreciates its prompt interventions in response to reprisals against the victims’ families and human rights defenders who keep working on the issue defying multiple forms of challenges.

We are seriously concerned over the behaviours of the states where documenting the cases of enforced disappearances and cooperating with the United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms is considered to be ‘anti-state activities’.

In May 2022, Bangladesh officially replied to a Joint Urgent Action of eight Special Procedures mandates including the WGEID1 where the Government stated, “ODHIKAR’s cooperation with the UN human rights mechanism has been considered as anti-State and anti-Government activity”2. Subsequently, the government has cancelled the human rights organisation’s registration as an NGO while its top leaders are now facing prosecution for documenting extrajudicial killings committed in 2013.

After the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s visit the families of disappeared victims face coercion, HRDs are intimidated and the relatives of exiled journalists living in the country are facing judicial harassments.

The Chairperson the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) Khurram Parvez3 , a leading rights advocate against enforced disappearance, has been arbitrarily detained under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)-1967 by the Government of India since 22 November 2021.

The Office on Missing Persons in Sri Lanka is made ineffective and inactive in absence of resources, which has halted the process of affording justice to the aggrieved families in that country. The victims of disappearances under military dictator Suharto still await justice in Indonesia as actions have been very much slowed down.

Competent institutions equipped with systems of checks and balances urgently need to stop enforced disappearance and ensuring justice to the families. We urge the Working Group to keep working to address the massive challenges regarding enforced disappearances.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

UN Web TV Video Link: (For watching the Statement at the UN Web TV, please click the video link at 01:40:15 to find Asian Legal Resource Centre)

[1] WGEID’s Annual Report submitted to the 51st Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G22/448/25/PDF/G2244825.pdf?OpenElement

[2] Reply of the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 12 May 2022 to eight Special Procedures mandates’ Joint Urgent Action: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadFile?gId=36948

[3]Bio of Khurram Parvez by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: https://www.uscirf.gov/religious-prisoners-conscience/forb-victims-database/khurram-parvez

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The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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