Press Release
May 18, 2011


A measure that would penalize enforced and involuntary disappearance and send to jail its perpetrators for life has been endorsed to the plenary by the Senate committee on justice and human rights.

Committee Report No. 36, or the Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, has been sponsored for deliberation and approval by committee chairman Senator Chiz Escudero.

The bill adopts the definition of involuntary disappearance under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as "the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State."

It also covers their "refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which places such person outside the protection of the law."

"The crime of involuntary disappearance is not yet considered a crime under our laws so we are endorsing this bill to institute mechanisms and strengthen existing policies in favor of human rights. This measure, in tandem with the recently approved Anti-Torture Law, will provide strong muscles against abuse of state power," Escudero said.

Once passed, the perpetrator of involuntary disappearances will be slapped with a maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua, which is equivalent to 20 years and one day to 40 years of imprisonment.

"This measure seeks to put further into operation Section 11, Article 11 of the Constitution, which declares as a State policy the value of human dignity and the guarantee of full respect to human rights," Escudero explained.

The measure also prohibits the issuances of "orders of battle" - official or otherwise - by the military, police or any law enforcement agency to justify an enforced or involuntary disappearance.

Escudero said the bill also provides that prosecution of persons responsible for the commission of enforced disappearance shall not be prescribed unless the victim surfaces alive, in which case the prescription period shall be 25 years starting from the date of reappearance.

It also mandates expeditious disposition of habeas corpus and amparo proceedings and immediate compliance with any release order by virtue of such proceedings.

"Let us not just bear witness to cases of involuntary and forced disappearances. These have caused our country big black eyes and have placed us under tight watch of both local and international rights groups and even foreign governments. We need to put this measure in place," Escudero said.

He added that there must be no compromise for a strong legislation with effective corrective penal measures if it is apparent that individual rights and human dignity is violated by the agents of the state in the exercise of their powers and authority.

News Latest News Feed