Civic Solidarity Platform Publishes Appeal to OSCE to Counter Enforced Disappearances
The Civic Solidarity Platform published the following appeal to the OSCE on the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared. The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is a member of the Civic Solidarity Platform.
OSCE SHOULD ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES NOW
APPEAL OF THE CIVIC SOLIDARITY PLATFORM TO OSCE PARTICIPATING STATES, POLITICAL BODIES
AND INSTITUTIONS ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL WEEK OF THE DISAPPEARED
The week of 26-31 May 2014has beencommemorated by civil by society organisations and concerned citizens across the word as the International Week of the Disappeared. We give tribute to the disappeared and their families and join international efforts for the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the recognition of the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the enactment of domestic laws criminalizing enforced disappearances. Having entered into force in December 2010, the International Convention provides the right to truth and justice and the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance. It considers unresolved past cases of enforced disappearance as a continuing offense and holds States responsible for the acts committed by its agents. It has strong provisions on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
We strongly believe that an alarming trend of spreading of the crime of enforced disappearances in a number of OSCE participating States requires particular vigilance and immediate actions by OSCE. In particular, lack of a specific OSCE commitment to prevent and combat the crime of enforced disappearances and absence of this important subject on the agenda of OSCE human dimension activities is deeply disturbing and must be addressed without delay. However, even in the absence of an explicit OSCE commitment on this subject, it is obvious that the practice of enforced disappearance contradicts existing OSCE commitments and international human rights law more generally. At the very least, it is an ultimate negation of proper procedures of arrest and fair trial. There is important jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, keeping states responsible for a proper process of investigation of enforced disappearances even if they occurred before the state became party to the Convention.
As OSCE and other inter-governmental organisations have failed to address numerous past cases of enforced disappearances in a number of countries of the region, an atmosphere of impunity prevails there and a breeding ground for commission of new crimes is established. This not only denies justice and effective remedy to victims and their families but often leads to other grave human rights crimes such as short-term abductions, torture and murder.
Enforced disappearances often target political opponents, civic activists and journalists; they are committed during counter-terrorism operations against terrorism suspects, and take place with alarming occurrence against civilians in the course of armed internal and international conflicts. Both agents of the state and private actors commit this crime.
On the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared we make the following recommendations to OSCE:
- All OSCE participating States should ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and recognise the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances;
- OSCE participating States should fully implement relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights as concerns both individual cases and general measures;
- All OSCE participating States should enact domestic legislation criminalising enforced disappearances based on the provisions of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
- All OSCE participating States should take all necessary practical steps to combat this heinous crime, effectively investigate allegations of enforced disappearance, bring perpetrators to justice and provide proper compensation to the victims and their families;[…]
We urge OSCE participating States, political bodies and institutions to act together now to stop enforced disappearances.
Read the full text of the Appeal here.