Minister Martin Remembers Dr. Patrick Rice09 July 2010
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., today paid tribute to the life of Dr. Patrick (Patricio) Rice, who died yesterday, Wednesday 7 July.
Pat Rice was an extraordinary Irishman, who spent 40 years in Latin America working in the field of human rights – as a teacher, educator, activist and lobbyist.
Born in Fermoy, Co. Cork in September 1945, Dr. Rice worked with the Divine Word Missionaries and subsequently the Little Brothers [Hermanitos] of Charles de Foucauld in Argentina. He was abducted on 11 October 1976 and physically abused and tortured while in detention. Dr. Rice could have been one of the 30,000 persons forcibly disappeared but for the prompt intervention of the Irish Embassy in Argentina.
On his release, Pat Rice was instrumental in the creation of the Committee for Human Rights in Argentina; the US Government hearing on the ‘Disappeared’ in Argentina; and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He was a founding member and served both as the Executive Secretary (1981-1987) and as a Senior Advisor to the Executive Committee (1999-2010) of FEDEFAM (the Latin American Federation of Association of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees). He was very recently honoured by his appointment as Coordinator of the International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances.
As part of his extensive involvement working with UN on human rights, Pat Rice was a tireless advocate for an international Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which was ultimately adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006. Ireland demonstrated its commitment to the forcibly disappeared by signing this Convention on 29 March 2007.
Pat Rice was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from University College Cork in 2008 for his tremendous contribution in the area of human rights and, in particular, his defence of the right of the families of the ‘disappeared’. He will be remembered for the profound impact he has made on Ireland, on Argentina, and on the International human rights arena.
On behalf of the Irish Government, Minister Martin has extended his deepest sympathies and condolences to Dr. Rice’s wife, Fatima Cabrera, and his family.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.