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Impunity for Enforced Disappearances in Asia Pacific Region Must End

by Amnesty International, August 30, 2007

The increase reflects a worsening pattern, with the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka reporting that hundreds of people have disappeared nationwide since January 2007, in addition to at least 1,000 in 2006. Unlawful killings, abductions and enforced disappearance of civilians are now daily occurrences. An extremely small proportion of these human rights violations have preceded to trial or conviction of perpetrators.

AI Index:        ASA 01/007/2007    (Public)
News Service No:         167                        
30 August 2007

Thousands of people remain victims of enforced disappearance in the Asia Pacific region. Marking today’s annual commemoration of the Day of the Disappeared, Amnesty International calls urgently for an end to this atrocious practise, which constitutes a grave human rights violation and a crime under international law.

The suffering of victims and their families continues unabated. In the vast majority of cases that have taken place over decades in the region, investigations have not been conducted and the whereabouts of victims remain unknown. Amnesty International believes that the continuing failure of states to investigate enforced disappearances and abductions could pave the way for an increase of these human rights violations in the future.

Amnesty International calls on governments in the Asia Pacific region to investigate all cases of enforced disappearance in their country, and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Victims or the families of victims of enforced disappearance must be assured full reparation for their suffering in each case.

To this end, the organization today puts a spotlight on enforced disappearances and abductions in a selection of Asia Pacific states including India (Jammu and Kashmir), Pakistan, the Philippines, Nepal, North Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand...

Sri Lanka
Amnesty International has documented a worrying increase in enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka in recent months, with at least 21 people reportedly disappeared in August in Jaffna district alone. The increase reflects a worsening pattern, with the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka reporting that hundreds of people have disappeared nationwide since January 2007, in addition to at least 1,000 in 2006. Unlawful killings, abductions and enforced disappearance of civilians are now daily occurrences. An extremely small proportion of these human rights violations have preceded to trial or conviction of perpetrators.

More than 5,700 outstanding cases of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka are being reviewed by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). Many cases of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka implicate security forces, while others implicate armed groups including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Karuna group. Amnesty International urges the government of Sri Lanka to urgently ratify the UN Convention to Prevent Enforced Disappearances, and to invite WGEID to visit the country and to implement its previous recommendations...

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
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