Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012

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To read this article in Filipino, see Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.

Republic Act No. 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 is a law that makes the crime of enforced disappearance punishable by life imprisonment. It was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on 21 December 2012.

The law, the first of its kind in Asia, states that a crime of enforced disappearance is considered committed under the following circumstances:

  • A victim is deprived of liberty
  • The perpetrator is the State or agents of the State
  • Information on the whereabouts of the victim is concealed or denied

The law makes enforced disappearance a crime different from kidnapping, serious illegal detention, murder or any common crime.

Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance

According to RA 10353, enforced or involuntary disappearance refers to 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, followed by a 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."

A disappeared person or any individual who has suffered harm as a direct result of an enforced or involuntary disappearance is refered to as the victim.

Provisions of the Law

Nonderogability of the Right Against Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance

The law provides that the right against enforced or involuntary disappearance and the fundamental safeguards for its prevention shall not be suspended under any circumstance, including political instability, threat of war or other public emergencies.

Order of Battle

The law provides that an "order of battle", defined as a document made by the military, police or any law enforcement agency of the government that lists names of persons and organizations deemed as enemies of the State, which causes the commission of enforced or involuntary disappearance is unlawful and cannot be invoked as a justifying or exempting circumstance. The law also provides that any person receiving such an order have the right to disobey it.

Right of Access to Communication

 It shall be the absolute right of any person deprived of liberty to have immediate access to any form of communication available in order for him or her to inform his or her family, relative, friend, lawyer or any human rights organization on his or her whereabouts and condition.

Duty to Report Victims of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance

Any person, not being a principal, accomplice or accessory, who has an information of a case of enforced or involuntary disappearance or who shall learn of such information or that a person is a victim of enforced or involuntary disappearance, shall immediately report in writing the circumstances and whereabouts of the victim to any office, detachment or division of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of National Defense (DND), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the City or Provincial Prosecutor, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) or any human rights organization and, if known, the victim’s family, relative, or lawyer.

The law also provides that in case a family member, relative, lawyer, representative of a human rights organization or a member of the media inquires with a member or official of any police or military detention center, the PNP or any of its agencies, the AFP or any of its agencies, the NBI or any other agency or instrumentality of the government, as well as any hospital or morgue, public or private, on the presence or whereabouts of a reported victim of enforced or involuntary disappearance, such member or official shall immediately issue a certification in writing to the inquiring person or entity on the presence or absence and/or information on the whereabouts of such disappeared person, stating, among others, in clear and unequivocal manner the date and time of inquiry, details of the inquiry and the response to the inquiry.

Liability of Commanding Officer or Superior

 The immediate commanding officer of the unit concerned of the AFP or the immediate senior official of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies shall be held liable as a principal to the crime of enforced or involuntary disappearance for acts committed by him or her that shall have led, assisted, abetted or allowed, whether directly or indirectly, the commission thereof by his or her subordinates. If such commanding officer has knowledge of or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that an enforced or involuntary disappearance is being committed, or has been committed by subordinates or by others within the officer’s area of responsibility and, despite such knowledge, did not take preventive or coercive action either before, during or immediately after its commission, when he or she has the authority to prevent or investigate allegations of enforced or involuntary disappearance but failed to prevent or investigate such allegations, whether deliberately or due to negligence, shall also be held liable as principal.

References

Citation

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