ASIA: UN must prioritise helping Asian member states to build justice institutions to end enforced disappearances

An Oral Statement to the 36th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre

Mr. Vice President,

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) appreciates the efforts by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in addressing enforced disappearances in Asia. The ALRC is however of the opinion that the WGEID’s efforts must be augmented by other mandate holders, particularly by the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

Our documentation shows that enforced disappearances is the direct result of state policies that allow state agencies to break the law and remain immune to any form of accountability. In Bangladesh, for instance, the Rapid Action Battalion, Detective Branch of the Police, and other law-enforcement agencies have disappeared 388 people since 2009. In these cases, the complaints from victims’ families are not investigated. Even the Supreme Court of Bangladesh is of no help.

Similar is the situation in Pakistan, where disappearances are regularly reported, particularly from the Baluchistan province. In addition, the ALRC has also documented cases of disappearances of bloggers, human rights defenders and persons from religious minorities in the country. The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances has received more than 3000 complaints of disappearances, which the Commission is not adequately equipped to deal with.

The struggles to know the truth by victims’ families are met with intimidation and threats by the states. Cases of disappearances reported from China, Indian and Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, and Sri Lanka over the past decade all affirm this fact. Human rights defenders and lawyers helping the victims are also targeted by state agencies.

Justice institutions in Asian states, where disappearances remain a blotch to our human rights record, all show patterns wherein justice institutions either condone state actions that result in disappearances, or are unable to deal with the crisis. Unless this institutional problem is resolved, disappearances in the region cannot be addressed.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

UN Web TV video: Link [Please scroll down and click on number 39 to find Asian Legal Resource Centre]

About Admin

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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