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.

AICHR holds ASEAN Dialogue on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Related Instruments 25-26 October 2018, Manila

Posted on: 30 October, 2018


(Foreground from L to R): Ambassador Andrea Reichlin (Embassy of Switzerland in Manila), Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah Mohd. Awal (Malaysia’s ACWC Representative on Children’s Rights); Dr. Shashi Jayakumar (alternate representative of AICHR-Singapore); and Philippine Representative to AICHR Leo M. Herrera-Lim

(Friday, October 26 2018) – ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)-Philippines and AICHR-Singapore, in collaboration with Child Rights Coalition Asia and with the support of the Switzerland Embassy in Manila, held the ASEAN Dialogue on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Its Related Instruments in Manila on 25-26 October 2018.

The Dialogue sought to raise awareness and increase understanding on the implementation of  the rights of the child by focusing on the three (3) CRC Optional Protocols of the UNCRC, namely the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (OPSC), and the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure (OPIC).  Unlike the UNCRC, ASEAN member states are party to the UNCRC but have not ratified all of the Optional Protocols.  The discussions dealt with the possibilities and challenges of ratifying the Protocols.

The Dialogue also highlighted one of the twenty-three (23) UN CRC General Comments, specifically General Comment Number 20, which focuses on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence.

The Dialogue is a follow up to the AICHR and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) Training Workshop on the UNCRC held in Singapore in July of 2017.

Participants to the Dialogue included AICHR Representatives, ACWC Representatives on Children’s Rights, the ASEAN Secretariat, Philippine foreign affairs officials, Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) officials.

Experts and practitioners gave presentations on the three (3) Optional Protocols and the UNCRC General Comment Number 20 during the 2-day Dialogue.  The presentors included Atty. Wanchai Roujanavong, Vice Chair and Thailand’s Representative on Children’s Rights to the ACWC; Atty. Yasmeen Muhammad Shariff, Former Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Mr. Ahmad Taufan Damanik, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM); Atty. Dorine van Der Keur, Legal Consultant, ECPAT International; and Atty. Mikiko Otani, Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

(From L to R): Dr. Shashi Jayakumar (AICHR-Singapore); Ambassador Andrea Reichlin (Swiss Embassy); Amihan Abueva (CRC Asia); Mr. Koh Choon Hui (Singapore’s ACWC Representative on Children’s Rights); and Philippine Representative to AICHR, Leo M. Herrera-Lim

Participants at the close of the ASEAN Dialogue on the UNCRC and its Related Instruments

The ASEAN Dialogue on the UNCRC and its Related Instruments is in line with AICHR’s mandates to enhance public awareness of human rights; promote capacity building for the effective implementation of international human rights treaty obligations undertaken by ASEAN Member States; and encourage ASEAN Member States to consider acceding to and ratifying international human rights instruments.  END

Press Release: AICHR CSO Symposium, 13 – 15 October 2018, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Posted on: 18 October, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the AICHR CSO Symposium on 13-15 October 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Participated in the Symposium were the AICHR Representatives/Alternates, representatives of ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), representatives from 20 CSOs with Consultative Relationship with the AICHR (accredited CSOs), National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), and the UN agencies (UNDP and UNESCAP).

In his opening remarks, H.E. Ambassador Barry Desker, Representative of Singapore and Chair of the AICHR, highlighted that since the adoption of the Guidelines on the AICHR Relations with CSOs in 2015, the AICHR has been actively engaging the accredited CSOs through its activities and programmes which address various human rights issues pertinent to ASEAN. Currently there are 30 CSOs accredited to the AICHR.

With the aim to foster understanding of the current development of human rights in ASEAN and to forge meaningful engagement between the AICHR and accredited CSOs, the Symposium provided a platform for interactive discussion on different human rights issues in ASEAN such as women and children’s rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, trafficking in persons, as well as business and human rights. The Symposium also marked the second time the AICHR hold a Roundtable Discussion (RTD) with the accredited CSOs. The RTD focused on the way forward to enhance consultation, coordination and cooperation between the AICHR and accredited CSOs in the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN. Few recommendations were enumerated and discussed in a frank and open manner, including to institutionalise the RTD.

As part of the Symposium, the participants went for site visits, including to Ban Pha Mee whereby members of the Akha tribe initiated a community-based tourism focusing on coffee produce and weaving. This form of tourism helps to showcase the local community culture while still preserving their values and lifestyle. In addition, the participants also visited the Mae Fah Luang University ranking the 9th among universities in Thailand which this year celebrated its 20th Anniversary and espousing Sustainable Development Goals into its operations.

Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, organised the Symposium on behalf of the AICHR with support from the Government of Norway.

Press Release: 8th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 14-15 September 2018, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 17 September, 2018

8th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community

The Task Force convened the 8th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community on 14 to 15 September 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Meeting finalised the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that encompasses all ASEAN Community Pillars and encourages ASEAN Bodies to take action in integrating and including disability perspectives to their work. Reaffirming persons with disabilities as agents of change themselves, the Enabling Masterplan has benefitted from consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities and would continue engagement with civil society organisations in its implementation.

The ASEAN Enabling Masterplan is aimed to be adopted by the ASEAN Leaders in November 2018.

The Task Force finalised the draft ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Thailand Representative to the AICHR and Mr. Richard Tan, Singapore Focal Point to SOMSWD and supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and the Australian Government. The Meeting extended appreciation to the Government of Thailand for its hospitality and arrangement of the meeting.

PRESS RELEASE: AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018, 8-10 September 2018, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Posted on: 15 September, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018 on 8-10 September 2018, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The three-day event fulfilled its objectives in raising awareness of the young people of ASEAN about the AICHR and human rights. It also aimed at fostering public speaking, critical thinking, and leadership skills, as well as promoting solidarity, empathy and camaraderie among the young people of ASEAN. The Youth Debate, which is part of the AICHR Priority Programmes/Activities 2018, was organised by the AICHR-Cambodia, in collaboration with the Cambodian Human Rights Committee and the Royal University of Phnom Penh, with financial support from the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund (ACCF).

The Youth Debate was participated by 30 undergraduate students from the ASEAN Member States. It also witnessed the keenness of ASEAN organs, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, Entities Associated with ASEAN, United Nations’ Agencies, prominent human rights experts as well as other pertinent stakeholders to take part in furnishing the knowledge of the bright debaters on the intersection of education with human rights; relevant international commitments and instruments on right to education, ways and means to overcome digital disruption, as well as various innovations in education.

Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR

The motions debated revolved around human rights education; children of migrant workers and their right to education; privacy of celebrities; air pollution; and the gravity of rape as to whether it amounts to a capital crime. Throughout the debate motions, the young debaters have shown their research and understanding on these wider issues of human rights, as well as on right to education and its complementarity and inter-sectionality with political stability, economic prosperity, inclusivity and human rights guarantee in ASEAN.

At the closing session, H.E. Keo Remy, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and the President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) shared about the recent developments of human rights situation in Cambodia; Cambodia’s achievements in relation to the promotion and protection of the right to education for youth; and current status related to policies and legal frameworks of youth and the right to education at international and regional level

Meanwhile, H.E. Polyne Hean, the Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR and Vice President of the CHRC, highlighted that the event also provided an opportunity for the participants of the Youth Debate to visit the Tuol Sleng Museum which documented the darkest human history took place in Cambodia, where the heinous crime, the genocide, was committed by the Khmer Rouge. While firmly pronouncing the “Never Again” statement, she expressed her expectation that the visit would continue to remind the future generations that such grave breaches of international law has no place in a dignified society.

Winners of the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018

Successfully served as a platform for the young people of ASEAN to express their views on human rights and interact with academics and experts on human rights issues within ASEAN, the Youth Debate was concluded with award giving to five best speakers, namely Mr. Maneth Nay from Cambodia, Mr. Muhammad Aditya Padmanaba from Indonesia, Mr. Muqriz bin Mustafffa Kamal from Malaysia, Ms. Colleen Anne Chua and Mr. Neal Amandus de la Rosa Gellaco from the Philippines.