ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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Press Release: Special Meeting of the AICHR, 27 – 28 October 2016, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Posted on: 29 October, 2016

The Special Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was convened on 27 – 28 October 2016 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. During the two-day Meeting, the AICHR discussed the progress of implementation of its Priority Programmes/Activities for the years 2015 – 2017 and adopted several new projects. The Meeting was also briefed on the outcomes of several AICHR Programmes/Activities which were recently concluded. The AICHR intends to enhance the mainstreaming of human rights into the three pillars of the ASEAN Community based on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

As part of its contribution towards the commemorative activities for the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN in 2017, the AICHR agreed to convene the fourth AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights with a special theme of “Forging Ahead Together towards a Sustainable Community” and to undertake human rights related activities during the celebration.

The AICHR met with the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism and agreed to explore possible areas of cooperation.  They also met with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) and identified common areas for future cooperation.

The Meeting deliberated applications of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) seeking for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR. The list of successful applications will be announced in due course.

The Meeting thanked the Government of Viet Nam for the gracious hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the Meeting. The 22nd Meeting of the AICHR under Lao PDR’s chairmanship will be held on 23 – 25 November 2016, in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.

Press Release: AICHR Training Programme on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 11-14 October 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 17 October, 2016

The AICHR successfully conducted another human rights training programme on 11-14 October 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. The training programme is a continuation of the 1st and 2nd regional dialogues on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities, which were held in December 2015 and June 2016, respectively.  The human rights training programme has become an annual activity of the AICHR since the first one was organized in 2010.

The 2016 Training aims at creating a better understanding on the rights of persons with disabilities and introducing a regional platform among relevant stakeholders in ASEAN with a view of sharing experiences and practices on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the region. More than 50 participants from all ten ASEAN Member States were nominated from amongst persons with no disabilities to learn about disability rights in various modules and from different perspectives. The Representative of Lao PDR and Chair of the AICHR (H.E. Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath) opened the Training and the Chairperson of the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability Foundation and former Foreign Minister of Thailand (H.E. Dr. Tej Bunnag) also gave an opening speech.

Supported by the Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and U.S. Progress, the 2016 Training is the 4th human rights training that the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR (H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot) has organized for the AICHR. Thailand is also the focal point for human rights education.

The training combined interactive and participatory lectures, and discussions to promote experience sharing.  It covered pertinent topics which included conceptual and regional frameworks on disability, friendly design for persons with disabilities, role of journalists, and the role of government officers and policy makers on the rights of persons with disabilities. It also held three sessions on sharing good practices, challenges, and opportunities on education, health and employment policies.

The sessions were facilitated by experts from the ASEAN Member States and Japan which included Mr. Monthian Buntan, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and representatives from the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Viet Nam’s Center for Research and Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CED), Malaysian Foundation for the Blind (MFB), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), Bizlink Centre Singapore Limited, and the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA). The training was participated by representatives of the AICHR, the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and media journalists.

The training also incorporated study visits to two sites: Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Institute, and the APCD. At the Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Institute, the participants were exposed to the various services it provides to people with disabilities such as assistive technologies, hydro therapy, and prosthetic and orthotic. At APCD, the participants toured a bakery, “60 Plus+ Bakery” run by Yamazaki Bakery and APCD, which is managed by and provides training to persons with disabilities.

On the last day of the training, participants learned about the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and stood to observe a moment of silence in tribute of King Bhumibol who is internationally recognized as a role model in sustainable development.

Moving forward, the AICHR will convene a task force on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities that it has established to draft a regional action plan, and in 2017, it plans to conduct the 3rd regional dialogue on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Press Release: AICHR – SOMTC Consultation on Human Rights-Based Approach in the Implementation of ACTIP and APA, 29 – 30 September 2016, Jakarta, Indonesia

Posted on: 4 October, 2016

Consultation for the Implementation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (ACTIP): Agreement to Continued Cross-border Cooperation between ASEAN Law Enforcement and ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) for a Human Rights-based Approach to Combating Trafficking in Persons

“In combating trafficking in persons, cross-border cooperation at the regional and international levels are necessary and inevitable,” this was stated by Indonesian representative to  AICHR, Dr. Dinna Wisnu at the conclusion of the Consultation between AICHR and the Senior Officials’ Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) on a Human Rights-based Approach to the Implementation of the ASEAN Convention and Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (ACTIP & APA) in Jakarta (30/9)

“This consultation was attended by all the senior officials of ASEAN law enforcement in SOMTC and the representatives of ASEAN regional cooperation mechanisms involved in combating trafficking in persons (TIP). The extraordinary energy and enthusiasm will motivate us in moving forward together in combating the crime with its ever-evolving modus operandi,” said Dr. Dinna Wisnu.

Dinna stated that ASEAN has received appreciation and acknowledgement by the international community for placing efforts to combat TIP as the main priority of its cross-sectoral cooperation.  “ASEAN has received the appreciation and acknowledgement of the international community. We have achieved much progress even before the ratification of ACTIP by all countries. There is even an agreement that the enforcement of laws and immigration rules needs to provide justice for victims and deliver more comprehensive preventive measures,” she added.

Police Brigadier General M. Naufal Yahya, representing the Indonesian SOMTC in his closing speech conveyed that the consultation meeting was very useful in exchanging information, ideas, experiences, and lessons in combating TIP. During the discussion session, the participants studied the plans and steps taken by countries that have ratified ACTIP to implement the Human Rights-based Approach to Combating TIP.

“We took the best practices from ASEAN member states related to prevention of TIP and protection, assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims and practices related to regional cooperation for advancing a human rights based approach in combating Trafficking In Persons,” he said.

In the discussions that have taken place for two days, Dinna stated that there needs to be further steps to identify and delineate victims from perpetrators, as well as to identify a common regional response to fulfill the needs and rights of the victims at every stage of combating TIP. In addition, the need for further consultations on the views and needs of specific groups such as the disabled and fishing industry workers was emphasized. The participants appreciated the in-depth discussion on the varieties and modus operandi of TIP, forms of cross-sectoral cooperation that can be followed up and ways of meeting the needs of victims which ASEAN can cooperate on.

As the outcome of the consultation, the participants recommended to provide tailored support for the specific needs of individual ASEAN member-states towards ratifying and strengthening ACTIP implementation.

In the future, a number of delegates in the forum proposed that this AICHR consultation meeting can act as the institutionalized consultation among ASEAN bodies relatedto combating TIP. In addition, the SOMTC Action Plan will be studied so that there is no overlap. Furthermore, there are a number of ways to prevent TIP that need to be further explored by ASEAN sectoral bodies outside of law enforcement, including by expanding the roles of community members, parents, and survivors of TIP.

Press Release: AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2016, 22 – 23 September 2016, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Posted on: 1 October, 2016

On 22 and 23 September 2016, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held the third edition of its Youth Debate on Human Rights themed “Realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Context of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration 2012” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia in collaboration with the University of Malaya, the Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking (MIDP) and the ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development and Security (ASEAN-U.S. PROGRESS).

In his welcome remarks, His Excellency Edmund Bon Tai Soon said that while the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) appear to focus on the achievements of communities and countries, they really arise from the concern for the rights, dignity and well-being of each human individual which in turn are clearly spelled out in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The AICHR, being the overarching ASEAN human rights institution, must view the SDGs through the human rights lens and ensure that human rights principles are integrated in the ASEAN process of achieving the SDGs.

As the AHRD is a historic agreement between the 10 ASEAN Member States to respect, protect and fulfil minimum standards of human rights in the region, His Excellency urged for the promotion and use of the AHRD to the fullest extent possible in advocacy efforts. In this regard, he issued a “General Observation No. 1/2016: Interpretation of Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration 2012” to elaborate on three provisions of the AHRD. These provisions pertain to (i) duties and responsibilities, (ii) application of human rights in regional and national contexts, and (iii) legal limitations of human rights.

The Debate increased public awareness of the AHRD, and provided a platform for ASEAN youth to express their views on contentious human rights issues such as abortion, child marriages, climate change, the rights of migrant workers and the right to peace. The judges chose the best debater from each of the five sessions as follows: Mr Chun Heng Sae Seah (Thailand), Mr Kishen Sivabalan (Malaysia), Ms Jutima Wanitchakarnchai (Thailand), Mr Alfonso Roel Vargas (the Philippines) and Ms Dan Thao Nguyen Do (Vietnam).

The fourth edition of the Debate to be held in 2017 will be hosted by AICHR Thailand.