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ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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AICHR Forum on Access to Justice, 17-18 December 2018, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 27 December, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held the AICHR Forum on Access to Justice in Bangkok, Thailand on 17 – 18 December 2018. This is the first event of the AICHR that focuses on the broad theme of access to justice. It combines interrelated topics that have been the subject of three AICHR thematic studies on human rights.

Bringing together representatives and experts from the AICHR, ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), ASEAN Commission on The Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), high-level government officials from various agencies of the Ministry of Justice of Thailand, the academia, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations and the ASEAN Secretariat, the Forum provided a platform to launch and present key findings and recommendations of the AICHR thematic study on legal aid, and to hold a regional consultation for two thematic studies also on justice and human rights in ASEAN, namely the right to life that examines the treatment of persons who are convicted with the death penalty and juvenile justice that explores the interrogation practices of children in conflict with the law. On 16 December, prior to the Forum, a coordination meeting of regional and national researchers from ten Member States was convened to discuss and agree on the structure of the juvenile justice study whose completion and launch are due in 2019, anticipating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which all ASEAN Member States are parties. The legal aid study will be available on the AICHR website once the formatting and graphic design are completed.

Applauding the Forum as an excellent opportunity to learn from one another from cross-country and inter sectoral perspectives among ASEAN stakeholders and to support the ongoing efforts for a people-centered ASEAN where no one is left behind, His Excellency Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of the Royal Thai Government, in his keynote address, emphasised that multi-sectoral and cross-border collaboration is essential to ensuring access to justice for all. He also encouraged the AICHR and ASEAN bodies to undertake follow-up activities and further collaboration to strengthen regional partnership on access to justice. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Barry Desker, the AICHR Chair and Representative of Singapore, stated that the rule of law and human rights underpin citizens’ confidence in and ensure stability among ASEAN societies and access to justice that is realized through an inclusive and collaborative approach is at the core of ASEAN values. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, in his welcome remarks, underlined that development can only be sustained if human rights are upheld and respected, and a core component of which is to ensure access to justice to all, including children, women, persons with disabilities, the poor and marginalized groups.

The Forum demonstrated the role of the AICHR and its efforts to mainstream human rights in critical sectors within ASEAN, and as a convener on spearheading strategies for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the SDG16 on peace, justice and strong institution.

The Forum was organised by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, with support of the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT and in partnership with the Rights and Liberty Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice of Thailand. It marks the conclusion of the year 2018 for the AICHR as well as the term of the third batch of the AICHR Representatives (2016-2018).

AICHR and CACJ hold ASEAN human rights dialogue on the rights of accused persons in criminal cases, 11 December 2018, Putrajaya, Malaysia

Posted on: 26 December, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices (CACJ) co-hosted the “AICHR-CACJ High Level ASEAN Human Rights Dialogue: The Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases” on 11 December 2018 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Chief justices, senior judges and members of the CACJ; representatives of the AICHR and the ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM); and regional human rights experts attended the dialogue. It was a follow up activity to the AICHR Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices Regarding International Human Rights Law held from 13 to 15 March 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

The AICHR recognised that certain fair trial rights have been expressly stated in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), and the dialogue was important to learn about how the judiciaries played their role to interpret and apply laws on the subject matter of fair trial rights. As such, judges from ASEAN Member States shared their experiences and good practices on how the judiciaries implemented the legal protection afforded to accused persons. Challenges facing each legal system were also discussed. Possible gaps between national legal standards and international human rights standards were further identified.

The dialogue saw a robust exchange of views and as a result, numerous recommendations were made for further action, among others:

  1. To document each AMS’ country overview on the rights of accused persons in criminal cases.
  2. To publish the Summary Record of the Dialogue as a reference guide.
  3. To analyse the key points of commonality among the AMS, namely: the right to counsel, the right to be informed of the grounds of his/her arrest, the right to access documents, the right to a speedy trial, the right to bail, the right to a presumption of innocence, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to legal aid, the prohibition of double jeopardy and the right to non-retroactive punishment. The analysis could seek to improve legal frameworks or practices and to identify any gaps.
  4. To work with ASLOM on the possibility of developing a Model Law that outlines the common standards to be adopted in treating accused persons in criminal cases.
  5. To strengthen the AICHR’s role in monitoring the compliance of human rights obligations by AMS with regard to the protection of the rights of accused persons.
  6. To explore ways to cooperate and dialogue with the CACJ on matters of human rights including to convene capacity building and training programmes.

It is envisaged that the dialogue will become a useful platform to build on the nexus between human rights and judicial cooperation; and to sustain effective and impactful collaborative programming between the AICHR, the CACJ and other ASEAN Bodies towards upholding the Southeast Asian peoples’ rights guaranteed by the AHRD.

Press Release: AICHR Workshop on the Thematic Study on the Right to Peace, 7 December 2018, Lao PDR

Posted on: 21 December, 2018

The AICHR Workshop on the thematic study on the right to peace was held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on the 7 December 2018, under the chairmanship of H.E.Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath, the Lao PDR representative to AICHR, with the attendance by more than 40 participants from ASEAN member countries.

The purpose of the workshop is to open a forum for representatives from AICHR and ASEAN sectoral bodies, national focal points of ASEAN Member States, regional researchers and civil society organizations to exchange of views and sharing of experiences in rights to peace, and to provide their inputs to the draft outcome report of the thematic study produced by a team of regional consultants.

At the workshop participants listened to the presentation on the draft regional report on right to peace by the regional consultant and the then follow by two panel discussions on Peace and Human Rights and Peace and Sustainable Development.

During the workshop the participants has also discussed the normative frameworks at the international, regional and national levels on peace promotion, the relationship of peace and stability to human rights and vice versa. The participants also discussed ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, article 38 on the right to peace in relation to SDG goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.

Press Release: 2018 AICHR Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community (Accessibility through Universal Design), 3-5 December 2018, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 20 December, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the 2018 Dialogue to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in the ASEAN Community from 3 to 5 December 2018. This is the fourth annual Dialogue conducted with a view to fostering the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities in all Community pillars of ASEAN.

Focusing on the theme “Accessibility through Universal Design”, the Dialogue gathered participants from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, government officials, organisations of persons with disabilities, national human rights institutions and experts on disability rights and saw exchange of views and sharing of experiences in the application of universal design as key to achieve accessibility in various spheres  beyond physical environment, including in financial services, access to justice and access to information.

Launching of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Dialogue commenced with the Launching of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in conjunction with commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In his opening remarks delivered through video, the Prime Minister of Thailand, H.E. Prayuth Chan-Ocha welcomed the launching of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan that would contribute to making the region an accessible and inclusive community for all. General Anantaporn Kanjanarat, Minister of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand in his remarks underlined access to information and technology as key for empowerment of persons with disabilities. The launch of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan was also welcomed by the Executive Secretary of the UNESCAP, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political-Security Community and the Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN.

Over the course of three-day dialogue, participants and resource persons highlighted universal design as precondition to enabling environment and the need for public-private-people partnership with participation of persons with disabilities and organisations of persons with disabilities to ensure accessibility and inclusion. Empowering persons with disabilities to understand and exercise their rights and the use of information and communication technology to enhance accessibility were also highlighted.

The Dialogue was organised by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR with support from Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and the Australian government.