Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jose Ramos Horta promises to ratify Convention on Enforced Disappearances this year

25 November 2009, Dili, East Timor

“Every family in my country has someone disappeared. I myself have two brothers who disappeared.”
These were words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta in a meeting yesterday with the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) whose local member is HAK Association. The president made a clear commitment that he would undertake all efforts to sign and ratify this international treaty before the end of 2009. He noted that had he been alerted earlier, the government of Timor-Leste could have already been a state party.

The team, which also included a representative from the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared – Detainees (FEDEFAM), asked the President to facilitate that Timor-Leste be one of the first 20 countries to ratify the international treaty which provides the right to truth and the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearances.

The AFAD Chairperson, Mugiyanto said that the Indonesian and the Timor-Leste- governments established a Truth and Friendship Commission. The joint c2ommission, which recommends the establishment of a Commission on Disappearances, will be guided by the treaty, if ratified.

Khurram Parvez of the AFAD member-organization in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir greeted Pres. Ramos-Horta with admiration as the latter is considered by the Kashmiri people who are fighting for independence, as an icon. Looking up to Pres. Ramos-Horta as exemplary world leader, Parvez appealed to the president to ratify the international treaty and for the president to appeal to other Nobel Peace Laureates and other Asian heads of states to endorse the treaty criminalizing enforced disappearances. President Ramos-Horta assured that he would write to other heads of states and Nobel Peace Prize winners.

To date, the Convention has been signed by more than 80 governments and 16 states. To enter into force, it needs 4 more ratifications. If Timor-Leste is a party to this Convention within this year, it will mark history to be one of the first 20 countries to ratify it.

If realized, the ratification of East Timor will go a long way towards helping the victims of conflict who continue to cry for truth, justice, reparation and the reconstruction of their historical memory.

The delegation is composed of Mugiyanto (IKOHI-Indonesia), Mary Aileen D. Bacalso (Secretary-General, Philippines), Khurram Parvez (APDP-Kashmir); Rosanna Santos Contreras (Philippines); Ruth Llanos vda. de Navarro (FEDEFAM-Bolivia). The AFAD is a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances with nine members from 7 Asian countries.

Signed and authenticated by:

AFAD Secretary-General

Secretary of Projects-FEDEFAM