By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
UNITED NATIONS– Japan ratified a UN human rights treaty on ending impunity for enforced disappearances. The Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN submitted its ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (“Disappearances Convention”) to the Secretary-General’s office on July 23, 2009. Japan is the first country in Asia and the 12th country in the world to ratify the Convention.
The Disappearances Convention’s goal is to prevent enforced disappearance, find the truth when this crime occurs, and to punish those responsible for the crime while providing reparations to the victims and their families. The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, and it is the product of long and arduous efforts by families, NGOs and governments to address the problem of enforced disappearance through international law.
Christopher Hall of Amnesty International said, “The Disappearances Convention is one of the strongest human rights treaties ever adopted by the United Nations. In the past, the perpetrators of this crime…were unlikely to be held accountable for their conduct…the Disappearances Convention is an important tool for the international community to half this trend.”
Amnesty International added that Japan must now take steps to fulfill its obligation under the Convention by enacting or amending any legislation necessary to implement the Convention. Hall also said taking these steps will ensure that perpetrators are held responsible, and by doing so, “Japan will set an important example for the world – and other Asian countries – to follow.”
The Japanese government released a statement via its Foreign Ministry website saying that the ratification of the Convention is “meaningful in showing the international community the strong intention of Japan to oppose enforced disappearances….”
The Disappearances Convention prescribes that enforced disappearances, including abductions in the international community, is a punishable crime. As of July 24, 2009, among the 81 countries listed as signatories, 12 countries (including Japan) have ratified the Convention. To enter into force, the Convention must be ratified by 20 countries.
For more information, please see:
Amnesty International – Japan commits to ending impunity for enforced disappearances – 28 July 2009
Diplomacy Monitor – Deposit of the Instrument of Ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – 24 July 2009
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – 20 December 2006