Malacanang elated over move of Human Rights Watch extolling President Aquino and Congress for passage of Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act
The Aquino administration expressed elation over the move of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) lauding President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Congress for the passage of the new law that criminalizes the enforced disappearances in the Philippines, a Palace official said.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement in an interview aired over government-run radio station Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday following the claim of the HRW that the newly-signed law is the first of its kind in Asia and a major milestone in ending human rights violations in the Philippines.
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.
"We’re happy that they (HRW) have acknowledged this particular measure," Lacierda said.
President Aquino signed into law on Friday Republic Act No. 10350 otherwise known as the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.
The new law criminalizes the “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State.”
The government vowed to effectively enforce the law in a bid to deter enforced disappearances and address the problem of human rights violations, Lacierda said.
"This is a move that shows the determination and commitment of the Aquino administration to human rights," he said.
In a statement, the HRW said the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 closely reflects international legal standards on enforced disappearance.
“President Aquino and the Congress deserve credit for acting to end the scourge of enforced disappearances in the Philippines,” Brad Adams, HRW Asia director, said.
“This law is a testament to the thousands of ‘disappearance’ victims since the Marcos dictatorship, whose long-suffering families are still searching for justice. The challenge now is for the government to move quickly to enforce the new law,” Adams said.
The HRW said the new law "reflects longtime recommendations by human rights organizations to the Philippine government to address unacknowledged detentions."
"Anyone convicted of committing an enforced disappearance faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and may not receive an amnesty. Superior officers who order or are otherwise implicated in a disappearance face the same penalty as those who directly carried out the crime. The government cannot suspend the law even in times of war or public emergency," the HRW said.
Under the law, subordinates can defy unlawful orders of superiors for the commission of enforced disappearances. It also calls for periodic update of registry of all detained persons in detention centers, and the law prohibits existence of secret detention facilities.
The victims and kin could ask for compensation, restitution and rehabilitation under the new law. The severest penalty for violating the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 will be Reclusion perpetua .
It also mandates that Human Rights organizations shall participate in the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law. PND (js)