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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: 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.

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Regional Workshop on Prevention Strategies to combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: Enhancing Access to Information and Community-based Protection System, 21-22 June 2018, Ha Noi, Việt Nam

Posted on: 26 June, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the “Regional Workshop on Prevention Strategies to combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), Especially Women and Children: Enhancing Access to Information and Community-based Protection System” in Ha Noi, Việt Nam on 21-22 June 2018. The workshop brought about 60 participants from the AICHR, ASEAN relevant sectoral bodies (ACWC, SOMSWD, SOMTC), the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Member States’ line Ministries/Agencies, relevant UN agencies (the UN Women, UNODC, UN-ACT, IOM), international organizations (Australia-Asia Program to combat TIP (AAPTIP), Asia Foundation), CSO with consultative relationship with AICHR, regional experts and other relevant stakeholders.

This Workshop was part of the AICHR’s continued effort to promote a comprehensive regional approach to combat TIP, particularly focused on TIP prevention strategies. The Workshop provided an avenue for participants to discuss on the international and regional legal and policy frameworks on anti-TIP, especially women and children, the human rights-based, people-centered and multi-stakeholder approach in the development and implementation of TIP prevention strategies as well as challenges and the ways forward to enhance regional cooperation on the agenda.

Amb Pham Sanh Chau, Assistant Minister of Foreign affairs of Viet Nam delivered his opening remarks

H.E. Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, Assistant Minister of Foreign affairs of Viet Nam, in his opening remarks highlighted Viet Nam’s commitment to the fight against TIP and called on States to build on the momentum achieved to mobilize greater actions and resources to concertedly fight against this crime, with a view to making significant contribution to the realization of the ASEAN Community and the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals.

Amb Nguyen Thi Nha, Representative of Viet Nam to the AICHR

Over the course of the two-day workshop, the resource persons and participants have highlighted: (i) the proper use of ICTs and social media to share information, identify victims, educate and raise awareness on TIP; (ii) the role of community-based systems in identifying and providing supports to TIP victims; (iii) the need for information campaigns that target specific audiences and respond to particular needs of each local community (iv) the need to address root causes of TIP and (v) the importance of regional/international cooperation as well as the engagement of all relevant stakeholders in society as a driving-force to move forward the agenda.

This Workshop was organized by AICHR-Viet Nam, with supports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, the AICHR, the ASEAN-U.S. PROGRESS, the Australian Government, and the Embassy of Turkey in Hanoi.

Press Release – 6th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community 16-17 April 2018, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Posted on: 18 April, 2018

The Task Force with DSG of ASEAN for ASEAN Political-Security Community

The Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, comprising representatives from the AICHR, SOMSWD and ACWC, convened its 6th meeting on 16 to 17 April 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Meeting continued its deliberation on the draft ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which identifies key action points based on the recognition and importance of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the political, legal, economic, social and cultural environments and the full realisation of their rights in all areas of the three ASEAN Community Blueprints.

Consultation with DSG of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community

The Meeting had consultations with the Deputy Secretary-Generals of ASEAN for ASEAN Political-Security Community and ASEAN Economic Community. DSG of AEC highlighted disability as a development issue and stressed on identification of barriers as well as the right economic conditions to enhancing economic contribution of persons with disabilities. While DSG of APSC emphasised on the importance of consultations with relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to ensure effective implementation of the Masterplan. The Task Force will consult with Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community at the 7th Meeting of the Task Force, with the recognition that representatives from SOMSWD and ACWC have been attending the meetings.

Representatives of SOMSWD at the Task Force meeting

The Task Force also met with representatives from the ASEAN Disability Forum. The Meeting discussed the current situation of persons with disabilities in ASEAN and noted the lack of disaggregated data in ASEAN as one of the challenges in mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR and Mr. Richard Tan, SOMSWD Focal Point of Singapore with the support of the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled in May 2018.

Press Release – AICHR High Level Dialogue on Managing Freedom of Expression in the Information Age Medan, Indonesia, 11 – 12 April 2018

Posted on: 18 April, 2018

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Right (AICHR) commits to support ASEAN governments in proactively building cooperation among ASEAN member states to strengthen the common commitment to protect Freedom of Expression especially empowering civil society through multi-stakeholder engagement to achieve quality freedom.

Initiated by AICHR, this High-Level Dialogue held in Medan,11-12 April 2018, attended by decision makers, formulators and opinion makers as well as experts from 10 ASEAN member states reveals that Freedom of Expression has been challenged in current information era. Disinformation (including hoax) that quickly spreads through social media, barrier in freedom of religion and protection of vulnerable groups such as minority, certain ethnic groups, woman and children, person with disabilities get the attention. Hates speech and hoax issued by irresponsible groups harms freedom of expression, tough to prevent and stop, even some government were late in responding do to various reasons. This problem should be solved cross-sectorally, by enforcing rules and educating the public to avoid believing in the wrong information and hatred.

Dr. Dinna Wisnu, the Indonesia Representative to AICHR says “Regulations to guarantee freedom of expression grows in several ASEAN member states but the legalistic approach intended to punish acts have limitation when they are not empowering civil society nor promoting protection of citizen and consumer. For Indonesian context, the tendency for vulnerable freedom of expression happens during the election period. It means, all stake-holders need to anticipate in order to avoid eroding Freedom of the Expression”.

Edmund Bon Tai Soon, AICHR Representative from Malaysia says “Human Right-based approach should be more nuanced, giving maximum space to freedom of expression while maintaining social order as stipulated in The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

This Dialogue is initiated by AICHR Indonesia, Dr.Dinna Wisnu in collaboration with AICHR Malaysia, Edmund Bon Tai Soon. The participants and speakers include, SOMRI (Senior Official Meeting on Responsible Information), SOMY (Senior Official Meeting on Youth), on Women and children, ACWC (ASEAN Commission for Protection and Promotion the rights of Women and Children), UNESCO, OHCHR (UN Office of High Commission on Human Rights), SEANF (ASEAN Human Rights Forum), ASEAN experts and civil society.

Press Release: 2nd ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights 29 November 2017, Bohol, the Philippines

Posted on: 30 November, 2017

On the 29th of November 2017, the European Union (EU) and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held the 2nd ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights, in Bohol in the Philippines. The meeting was hosted by AICHR and followed the 1st EU-ASEAN dialogue held in October 2015 in Brussels.

The dialogue was co-chaired on the ASEAN side by H.E. Leo Herrera-Lim, Chair of AICHR, and on the EU side by Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

Also participating in the dialogue were the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) and the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC).

The second Policy Dialogue on Human Rights was held in an open and constructive atmosphere. The two sides expressed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are parties as well as the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and other human rights related regional instruments, and exchanged views about recent developments in human rights in ASEAN and in the EU.

Topics addressed during the Policy Dialogue included trafficking in persons, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, rights of the child, rights of migrant workers, business and human rights / corporate social responsibility, as well as rights of persons with disabilities.

The EU and ASEAN agreed to continue their cooperation and identified specific areas where the EU and ASEAN would work more closely together, including trafficking in persons, business and human rights as well as women’s and children’s rights, and the rights of migrant workers. They agreed to explore holding their next dialogue in 2018.

AICHR Reviews ASEAN’s Implementation of the AHRD with Partners, SOMs and CSOs

Posted on: 30 November, 2017

The great strides ASEAN has made in the field of human rights towards ensuring a more equal, just and peaceful ASEAN Community was celebrated on 28 November 2017. As part of its commemorative activities for the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration 2012 (AHRD), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened a Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) on 28 November 2017 in Bohol, the Philippines. The RTD was a  platform to discuss the AHRD with representatives of ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Consultative Relationship with the AICHR.

The AHRD is the foundation of the AICHR’s work in the region. The AHRD affirms all the civil and political rights, and all the economic, social and cultural rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and includes newly-recognised collective rights to a sustainable environment, to development, and to peace. It provides a framework for human rights co-operation and consultation between ASEAN Member States in advancing ASEAN’s aspiration to be a rules-based, people-oriented and people-centred Community. It was adopted through the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD on 18 November 2012 where the ASEAN Leaders affirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the AHRD to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.

The RTD highlighted the importance of the AHRD, and allowed the delegates to take stock of the current ASEAN rights landscape; gaps and challenges faced by the region; and opportunities to enhance the AICHR’s efforts in mainstreaming human rights values to all three ASEAN Pillars.

The first session gathered the participation of ASEAN officials working on the issues of labour; migrant workers; women and children; health development; education; and information and media. The session noted attending bodies’ commitment to support each other’s upcoming activities and develop new formats of collaboration to enhance the implementation of ASEAN’s commitment on human rights.

Pursuant to the AICHR’s on-going efforts to broaden and deepen partnerships with CSOs, the AICHR has now accredited 22 CSOs, and more applications are pending. The second session of the RTD saw a robust and constructive dialogue between the AICHR and CSOs in Consultative Relationship with the AICHR. Delegates highlighted the complementarity between the AHRD and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and explored means for more effective engagement with the AICHR using the AHRD as the region’s reference point.

The RTD was jointly organised by AICHR Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia with the support of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument Human Rights Facility (READI-HRF).