You are here: Home / News archive 2012

Onward to Becoming Champions For the Disappeared: ICAED’s Challenge to All UN Member-States

It has been more than 32 years since FEDEFAM, the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM), initiated the commemoration of the International Week of the Disappeared every last week of May. The FEDEFAM, in its first Congress in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1981, envisioned this week as a venue for intensified campaign for justice and peace for all desaparecidos and their families.

As the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) continues to adopt this endeavor led by families’ organizations for the disappeared in different parts of the world, we also exclaim the need for a unified duty to accord the rights of every citizen not to be subjected to enforced disappearance. The Coalition adheres to believe that the foremost solution to ensure that the number of cases documented and reported will not increase and for cases of the past to be resolved is for all states to accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the Convention).

At the end of 2013, the Convention would be entering its 3rd year since its coming into force. At present, the Convention has 38 States Parties comprising of five states from North America, nine states from South America, 11 states from Europe, nine states from Africa, one state from Oceania, and three states from Asia. However, it is legal to assert that only 15 of these 38 parties, who expressed recognition on the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) through Articles 31 and 32, have completed the entire ratification process. Hence, the ICAED would like to recognize these 15 states as champions on annihilating the global scourge of disappearance. These states stood up to answer the undying question and screams of “where are you?” which we often hear from families of the victims. These states are firm and committed to the journey in search for the disappeared. Their determination to stand up against the world of misery and for the promise that none of their citizens would shed tears of grief, but instead, tears of joy is worth the ICAED’s commendation.

As we commemorate this year’s International Week of the Disappeared, the ICAED recognizes that so much work has yet to be done. The ICAED, led by all families’ organizations for the disappeared, will never falter until we achieve our dream of having a world without disappearances. We look forward to the much-cherished dream of universal accession to the Convention in the soonest possible time.

We thus, call unto all UN member-states to sign and ratify without any reservations. We also emphasize the importance of the duties of the CED and for this reason we call on the 23 States Parties to recognize the latter’s competence.


Signed and authenticated by:


Focal Person                                                                                

ICAED Statement on the International Day of the Disappeared

30 August 2012 – The international community commemorates the International Day of the Disappeared.  On this day, the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) and its 41 member organizations, pay tribute to all the victims of enforced disappearance throughout the world in various ways.

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), in its 2011 report, states that there are 53,788 outstanding cases of enforced disappearance. Each case is not only a part of the global statistics on enforced disappearance. It signifies  a flagrant violation of the most basic rights to life and liberty; the right to a family, to a community, to a decent work and many more. From the testimonies of those who surfaced alive, enforced disappearance subjects people to torture, degrading and inhuman treatment. Not only does it instill excruciating pain and sufferings to the immediate victims, it also causes pain and anxiety to the surviving families and relatives. Especially if the victims were breadwinners, the disappearance not only causes emotional and psychological anguish, but also economic dislocation to the surviving families.

The global magnitude  of the crime  urged the United Nations to officially commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared every 30th of August. It is a  meaningful  way to honor all victims of enforced disappearance and to tell the world of the seriousness of the  offense and ensure non-repetition. Significant to note is that prior to the United Nations’ official recognition of this day,  for three decades, the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM) had been commemorating this occasion since its founding Congress in San José, Costa Rica in 1981. Also, organizations and associations of families of the disappeared from other continents  have been commemorating this occasion until its official recognition by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010.

The ICAED is especially concerned with the cases in Bangladesh,  India, Mali, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria where enforced disappearances are reported to be happening on a widespread scale. It is likewise concerned with the still unresolved cases in many other countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Nepal, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru and in many African countries, including Algeria, Egypt and Morocco - a situation that cultivates the culture of impunity.

On 23 December 2010 the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance  (the Convention)  entered into force. Almost two years later,  the number of States Parties is still too low vis-à-vis the 87 countries with outstanding cases of enforced disappearance mentioned in the 2011 report of the WGEID. Further, a considerable number of States Parties has not recognized the competence of the  Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) to receive and consider individual and interState communications– a reality which is a cause of real concern for the ICAED.

As a tribute to the world’s disappeared on this International Day of the Disappeared, the ICAED calls on all States:

 To ratify the Convention – without making any prohibited reservation - and to recognize the competence of the CED to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of victims and from other states parties;

 To adopt all measures to prevent enforced disappearance from recurring, including making it criminal under national law;

 To establish the truth on past cases;  

 To conduct investigations of cases and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence,  to  prosecute and sanction perpetrators and  to  provide redress to victims;  

 To cooperate with the UN WGEID.

As the  international  community observes the International Day of the Disappeared, the ICAED, a coalition of 41 member-organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe, Euro-Mediterranean Region, Middle East, North America and Latin America, renews its vow  to continue its indefatigable  search and struggle for truth and justice.

Enforced disappearance is one of the worst human rights violations. A huge number of  people throughout the world  are affected  by this scourge.  It is imperative for civil society and governments to forge solidarity in bringing to an end the practice of enforced disappearance and to ensure that the right to truth, justice, reparation and memory are guaranteed.  

Stop Enforced Disappearances NOW!



Focal Person

International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances

International Week of the Disappeared 2012: ICAED Vows to Continue Its Campaign for Ratification of the Anti-Disappearance Convention

27 May –June 2, 2012 – Every last week of May, the international community, especially the associations of families of the disappeared, commemorates the International Week of the Disappeared (IWD).  The commemoration of the IWD can be traced to the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared (FEDEFAM), which initiated this event during its founding Congress in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1981. Over the past thirty years this event has inspired many organizations world-wide to fight enforced disappearances.

This week, in the observance of the International Week of the Disappeared, the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) and its 40 member-organizations from Africa, Asia, the Eurasian Region (Euro-Mediterranean Region, Caucasus and Belarus), Latin America and United States of America will conduct various activities to intensify its campaign for the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the Convention) and in so doing, pay tribute to the disappeared.

Enforced disappearance is extremely disturbing because it violates the human rights of both the disappeared person and their family.  It does not recognize the victim as a person. It strips a disappeared person of the right to be protected by the law, which is recognized under Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This crime is especially alarming when it is committed against pregnant women and children because it also violates women’s and children’s rights. The cycle of victimization caused by enforced disappearances is without end.  Families and relatives left behind are deprived of the truth, bereft of justice and worse still, are often subjected to persecution.

To date, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the Convention) has been signed 91 States and ratified by 32.  The number of signatures and ratifications pales in comparison with the 57,771 outstanding cases from 87 countries that rest with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (as per their 2011 report).  These figures represent human suffering of the disappeared, their families and the greater society – a festering wound that refuses to heal.

Most member organizations of ICAED from Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cyprus, Morocco, Georgia, Lebanon, Belarus, Russia, Iraq, Jammu and Kashmir, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru are confronted with the innumerable consequences of enforced disappearance, such as reprisal, intimidation, denial of state responsibility and grave threats by the governments’ security forces. Adding insult to injury, most states are notorious for refusing to cooperate in bringing perpetrators to justice.

Much as the ICAED has made important accomplishments during its five-year existence by carrying out its mandate of lobbying for the Convention, recruiting member-organizations, organizing important meetings and events, it can certainly further strengthen itself and expand its membership, especially in countries with the worst cases of disappearances. The consolidation of existing membership and its expansion, complemented with capacity-building, will go a long way towards mustering strength to combat enforced disappearances and impunity.   Hand in hand with civil society, the Coalition can better fulfill its mission to convince governments to ratify the Convention, recognize the competence of the UN Committee Against Enforced Disappearances, codify the offense in their respective penal codes, fully implement the treaty, ensure truth, justice, redress and non-repetition. These are all important steps to end impunity and preserve the historical memory of the disappeared.

More than thirty years had passed since our Latin American sisters and brothers initiated the International Week of the Disappeared. It is high time to end enforced disappearances NOW!

As an apt tribute to the desaparecidos of the world, the ICAED vows to continue convincing UN States to sign and ratify the Convention NOW!

Justice for All Desaparecidos of the World!

Sign and Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance NOW!




Focal Person

International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances

c/o Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)

Rooms 310-311 Phil. Social Science Center Bldg.

Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Telefax: 00-63-2-4546759

Telephone: 00-63-2-4907862

Mobile: 00-63-917-792-4058

ICAED Statement on the Acquittal of Judge Baltasar Garzon

16 March 2012


Although Spain’s Amnesty Law of 1977 seems to be a protective blanketof General Franco’s surviving supporters of his regime, it only providesfor an amnesty for political crimes – and the crimes under internationallaw committed in Spain in the past do not amount to political crimes. TheSpanish Magistrate Baltasar Garzón did comply with the obligations of Spainunder international law when he decided to investigate and prosecute theformer Chilean head of state, Augusto Pinochet in October 1998.

The investigation initiated by Judge Garzón on the crimes against humanityand war crimes committed during the Civil War by both parties to theconflict and the Franco regime is righteous because this is an attempt tocorrect a historical blunder. There are no wounds to open as opposed tosome claims because the wounds of the families of the victims of humanrights violations and enforced disappearances are still open and are in fact,festering- even after 41 years since the death of Francisco Franco. Twoyears after his death, the Government of Spain passed the Amnesty Law –though it ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights few months before that.

Closure is remote because the remnants of those responsible are still aliveand conscientiously hide the atrocities committed during those dark years.A country like Spain which claims to practice democracy, truth and justicemust support the exercises of trial and prosecuting human rights violators,including perpetrators of enforced disappearance.

The International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED),composed of 40 member- organizations from Africa, Asia, Euro-Mediterranean Region, Europe, Latin and North America believes that Spainas in any other government must be responsible to promote a safety netto their citizens against all forms of human rights violations. Part of thismeasure is the consistent determination of the state to support the legalprocess against all atrocities.

To note, enforced disappearance is highly controversial in Spain becauseuntil now, the Government did not recognize the state-sponsored kidnappingof the babies of the activists and dissidents during the Franco regime. Thisis true despite the fact that Spain has ratified the International Conventionfor the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – but it hasnot yet criminalized enforced disappearance under national law.

Comunicaedo de Prensa : ¿España al banco de los acusados, en vez del Juez Garzón?

Comunicado de Prensa

13 de febrero de 2012

¿España al banco de los acusados, en vez del Juez Garzón?

La ICAED exige que no se obstaculicen más las investigaciones sobre los casos de desapariciones forzadas de la guerra civil y del régimen franquista, que se de reparación a las víctimas, y que se abrogue la ley de Amnistía de 1977.

El 24 de enero de 2012 inició ante el Tribunal Supremo la fase oral del juicio contra el juez Garzón, acusado de haber excedido su competencia al haber admitido a trámite e investigado quejas sobre crímenes de lesa humanidad relativas a desapariciones forzadas que habrían ocurrido entre 1936 y 1951.

Dichas conductas corresponden a crímenes de derecho internacional, cuya práctica generalizada o sistemática se califica de crimen de lesa humanidad. Sin embargo, se trata de crímenes imprescriptibles, cuyos perpetradores no se pueden beneficiar de ninguna ley de amnistía.    

En España, la Ley No. 46/1977 del 15 de octubre de 1977 establece una amnistía limitada solamente a aquellos delitos cometidos con ‘intencionalidad política’,  no amparando pues a los responsables de crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos hasta el 15 de diciembre de 1976.

Ello no obstante, en 2008, el Comité de Derechos Humanos de la ONU ha recomendado a España que: a) considere la derogación de la Ley de amnistía de 1977; b) tome las medidas legislativas necesarias para garantizar el reconocimiento de la imprescriptibilidad de los crímenes de lesa humanidad por los tribunales nacionales; c) prevea la creación de una comisión de expertos independientes encargada de restablecer la verdad histórica sobre las violaciones de los derechos humanos cometidas durante la guerra civil y la dictadura; y d) permita que las familias identifiquen y exhumen los cuerpos de las víctimas, y en su caso, las indemnice.

Por su parte, en 2009, el Comité contra la Tortura ha recomendado a España que asegure que los actos de tortura, que también incluyen las desapariciones forzadas, no sean crimines sujetos a amnistía. Al respecto, el Comité alentó al Estado parte a continuar e incrementar sus esfuerzos para ayudar las familias de las víctimas a esclarecer la suerte de los desaparecidos, identificarlos y obtener las exhumaciones de sus restos, siempre que sea posible. Asimismo, el Comité reiteró que, de acuerdo al artículo 14 de la Convención, el Estado parte debe asegurar la reparación y el derecho a una indemnización a toda victima de actos de tortura. 

Además, cabe señalar que el Art. 18 de la Declaración sobre la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas (1992) establece claramente que los autores o presuntos autores de desapariciones forzadas no se beneficiarán de ninguna ley de amnistía especial u otras medidas análogas que tengan por efecto exonerarlos de cualquier procedimiento o sanción penal.

El Art. 24, párr. 6, de la Convención internacional para la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas (ratificada por España el 24 de septiembre de 2009), aclara que los Estados partes tiene la obligación de continuar una investigación hasta establecer la suerte de la persona desaparecida.

A la luz de lo anterior, se desprende que la Ley No. 46/1977, tal como ha sido erróneamente interpretada en España viola las obligaciones internacionales contraídas por el estado español, y que las autoridades que la aplican haciendo extensivos sus efectos a los crímenes de derecho internacional contravienen a las recomendaciones de distintos organismos internacionales de protección de derechos humanos.

Por ello, es de esperarse que un castigo del juez Garzón por haber dado curso a una investigación en línea con las obligaciones internacionales de España resultaría en una condena por para de los mecanismos internacionales de protección de los derechos humanos y, posiblemente, en la presentación de numerosas quejas en contra de España ante estos organismos.

En este sentido, el pasado 8 de febrero de 2012, la Relatora Especial de Naciones Unidas sobre la independencia de magistrados y abogados y el Grupo de Trabajo contra la desaparición forzada expresaron fuerte preocupación por el potencial efecto del juicio en contra del juez Garzón.

La Coalición Internacional contra Desapariciones Forzadas (ICAED) hace un llamado a España para que cumpla con sus obligaciones internacionales y respete el derecho a la justicia, a la verdad y a la reparación de miles de víctimas de desaparición forzadas de personas durante la Guerra Civil y el gobierno de Francisco Franco y de sus familiares.

Asimismo, la ICAED quiere destacar que los presuntos errores en decisiones judiciales no deben ser motivo para la remoción de un juez y, menos aún, para el inicio de un proceso penal.

En este sentido, la ICAED reitera que, al admitir a trámite e investigar quejas relativas a desapariciones forzadas perpetradas durante la dictadura, el juez Garzón ha dado cabal cumplimiento a las obligaciones internacionales del Estado español y a las recomendaciones formuladas reiteradamente por varios organismos internacionales.




Punto Focal

Coalición Internacional Contra Desapariciones Forzadas