Mary Aileen D. Bacalso receives the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law [fr]
Last December 12, French Ambassador Nicolas Galey and German Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel jointly awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law to Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, former Secretary-General of the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).
Every year since 2016, the Franco-German Ministerial Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law has been awarded to individuals or organizations who have made an exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in their country and at the international level.
This Prize reaffirms the constant commitment of France and Germany to human rights and the rule of law, and helps strengthen their cooperation in this area.
Last December 10, on Human Rights Day, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Germany’s Federal Foreign Office announced the 15 recipients of the 2019 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Joining Ms. Bacalso as this year’s awardees are other human rights defenders such as Ales Bialiatski (Belarus), Li Wenzu (China), the Nadim Center (Egypt), Nasrin Sotoudeh (Iran), Amina Hanga (Nigeria), and Luz Mely Reyes (Venezuela).
Ms. Bacalso was jointly nominated by the French and German governments in recognition of her work in lobbying for greater national and international action against enforced disappearances, as well as providing assistance to victims of enforced disappearances and their families in the Philippines and all over the world.
In her capacity as then-Secretary-General of the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), founded in Manila in 1998, and as the focal person of the International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED), which comprises over 30 organizations nationwide, Ms. Bacalso contributed to the drafting and lobbying of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPPED), which was adopted in Paris in 2006.
In the Philippines, Ms. Bacalso joined other human rights groups in lobbying for the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, which was passed into law in 2012 and which represents the first and only law of its kind in Asia.
She is the second Filipino to receive this award. In 2017, Rosemarie Trajano, Secretary-General of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), was recognized for dedicating over 30 years of her work in the defense and protection of human rights in the Philippines.
Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso served as Secretary-General of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) from its founding in June 1998 until July 2019, and as the focal person of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearance (ICAED) from 2010 until July 2019. Prior to this, she was the Secretary-General and later, Co-Chairperson of the Philippine-based Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) from 1992 to 2001.
Her husband disappeared in November 1988 at the height of the anti-insurgency campaign led by the Philippine government. During his detention, he was heavily tortured and later, released when a co-disappeared escaped. Such an experience inspired her to work with victims of enforced disappearances.
With FIND, she indefatigably lobbied for the enactment of the Philippines’ Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, the first law of its kind in Asia. She facilitated the formation of AFAD, which fosters solidarity in a region that submitted the highest number of cases of enforced disappearances to the United Nations. She also consistently and actively participated in the drafting of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Dedicating her writings to victims of disappearances, she writes commentaries for the Union of Catholic Asian News and La Croix.
In 2013, she received the Patrick Rice Human Rights Award given by the Torture Abolition and Survivors’ Support Coalition and the Emilio F. Mignone International Human Rights Prize given by the Argentinian Government.