Bangkok : Thailand | Jan 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM PST
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The formation of the Asian Forensics for Human Rights

Yesterday, six member NGO human rights organizations of the AFAD with the support of EAAF formed the Asian Forensics for Human Rights in Bangkok. This will be composed of experts and forensically trained human rights development workers in the region.

In the two day meeting, 27-28 of January 2012, the participants presented the human rights situations in their countries and the difficulty in getting justice for the victims of human rights violations (hrvs). Their presentations include among others: the undocumented cases of hrvs in their countries counting to more than a million, especially torture, extra-judicial killing and enforced disappearance; a case of a woman raped by a group policemen in front of her husband; and a man made feetless to prevent him from traveling.

The Philippine delegates shared their experience on torture. The country ratified the Conventiona Against Torture... in 1987, but the enabling law was enacted only in 2009. The Implementing Rules and Regulations came a year after. There were at least five complaints filed in court but only two prospered. The three were dismissed for insufficient evidence although the perpetrators were identified. Of the two cases that prospered in court, only the perpetrators of one case were apprehended, the perpetrator in the other case remains at large. The military continue to deny that they have such person in their roster although this uniformed man was spotted several times by the victim himself in his detention center.

The participants said that such violations resulted to debilitating physical and psychological conditions making the victims and their relatives suffer for decades if not for their whole lives. The absence of psychosocial services, especially by the government makes their situation more difficult as most of the victims come from the marginalized sectors.

The lack of independent forensic investigation was also reiterated by the participants making the quest for justice next to impossible as some experts who are true in their profession find themselves victims of injustice. The law enforcers involved in human rights violations implicate the experts in the crime. Thus, impunity remains a major obstacle in the quest for a society that respects human rights. With this condition, the victims fight for justice remains elusive.

The participants came from Indonesia, Kashmir-India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and the Philippines. Other member organizations from other Asian countries did not make it to the meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Benito Molino, a forensic consultant from the Philippines and was organized by the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD) with the support of Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) led by Luis Fondebrider. Dr. Soren Blau of the Human Identification Service at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Australia was also in attendance.

The Central Institute of Forensic Science of the Ministry of Justice of Thailand led by its Director-General Dr. Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan was also in the meeting with her four key personnel. Dr. Porntip was elated with the formation of the network. She believes that this will lead to a more credible forensic investigations of alleged cases of human rights violations as more experts and independent forensic groups will be available to provide forensic services to the victims. She hopes that the Forensic Institute she heads will soon become independent from the Ministry of Justice.

The group hopes to meet again in May to assess the development of the formation of the network.

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Bangkok meeting on the formation of the Asian Forensics for Human Rights
Luis Fondebrider of Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) sharing the result of the Bogor meeting in 2010.
ben696molino is based in Antipolo, Southern Tagalog, Philippines, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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