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ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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Press Release: 3rd Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 19-21 June 2017, Phuket, Thailand

Posted on: 22 June, 2017

The 3rd AICHR Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community was held on 19-21 June 2017 in Phuket, Thailand. This Dialogue built on the previous two regional dialogues the AICHR convened in 2015 and 2016. The 2017 Dialogue focused on the issues pertaining to access to justice, persons with disabilities as entrepreneurs and disability perspective in disaster risk management. The event gathered participation of the AICHR and various relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, including ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC); National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), and experts from regional and international organisations.

The Dialogue participants actively contributed in sharing their experiences and challenges relevant to the three focus areas. They provided their views to the proposed regional action plan, which is currently being drafted by the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community. In the context of access to justice, it was highlighted that there is a need to empower persons with disabilities to ensure that they are aware of their rights.

Mr. Monthian Bunthan, a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities highlighted the importance of having accessibility impact assessment for businesses in ASEAN to ensure inclusivity of persons with disabilities. The participants highlighted that the rights of persons of disabilities to work, employment and to start a business is guaranteed under article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the latest international human rights instrument to be ratified by all ASEAN Member States. However, social stigma surrounding persons with disabilities adds barriers to the realisation of their right. Moreover, the lack of access to infrastructure, information and transportation hinders persons with disabilities from becoming contributing members of the economy through entrepreneurship.

It was highlighted that the lack of data on persons with disabilities hinders the first responder to assist them. Therefore, it was emphasised that knowledge on disaster preparedness should be adequately shared to persons with disabilities including to children with disabilities.

Participation of persons with disabilities in policy-making processes was highlighted as the key point in ensuring the mainstreaming and full implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities.

The 3rd Regional Dialogue was organised by the Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR in collaboration with various agencies in Thailand, including the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, the Administrative Court, the Social Security Office, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), as well as the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) and the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD). The event was supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and Australian Aid.

PRESS RELEASE: AICHR JUDICIAL COLLOQUIUM ON THE SHARING OF GOOD PRACTICES REGARDING INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW, 13 – 15 MARCH 2017

Posted on: 17 March, 2017

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights (AICHR) organized the first-ever AICHR Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices regarding International Human Rights Law from 13 to 15 March 2017 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

The Colloquium was jointly organized by the AICHR-Malaysia, AICHR-Lao PDR and AICHR-Thailand, with the support from the ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development Security (ASEAN-U.S. Progress), Regional Europe-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument, Human Rights Facility (READI, HRF), Heinrich Boell Stiftung Southeast Asia, Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).

The Keynote Address was delivered by His Excellency (H.E.) Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, on behalf of H.E. Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. H.E. Dato’ Ramlan highlighted that AICHR should actively devise methods and strategies to be the human rights standard-setting institution of ASEAN, and that it is necessary for the region to have a common baseline on how the rights in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) are to be defined and implemented, as this will accelerate ASEAN’s political, economic and social and cultural development.

The Right Honourable Tun Arifin bin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia delivered the Opening Statement. The Chief Justice of Malaysia shared the history of the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices (CACJ), and observed that there are opportunities for judicial cooperation between the CACJ and AICHR in terms of sharing technical expertise and good practices on human rights matters which are of interest to both; in particular, on the rights of children, women and persons with disabilities.

H.E. Edmund Bon Tai Soon in his opening remarks highlighted that the AICHR’s Terms of Reference (TOR) provides sufficient mandate to establish institutional links with the ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to mainstream human rights across the three pillars of ASEAN Community namely the Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community. H.E. Edmund Bon also suggested that there is a need to establish an inter-sectoral expert or working group on human rights and the Judiciary, or a regional resource centre to provide technical expertise and assistance to policymakers, judges and lawyers, or collaboration through the publishing guidance notes or comments on the interpretation and application of the AHRD, and making recommendations to enhance rights protection.

The Colloquium was attended by Representatives of AICHR, Senior Judges, representatives of Public Prosecution and Attorney General Offices, ASEAN Law Ministers Meeting (ALAWMM), ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC) and ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) from ASEAN Member States. Also in attendance were international judges, representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Southeast Asia National Human Rights Institution Forum (SEANF) and Civil Society Organisations with consultative status with AICHR.

The objectives of the Colloquium, amongst others, were to encourage greater peer-to-peer interaction, share good practices and challenges in the implementation of international human rights laws and to strengthen judicial co-operation between relevant stakeholders.

The Colloquium concluded with the adoption of Colloquium’s Conclusions and Recommendations for the consideration of the AICHR. Amongst the key recommendations were the need to conduct capacity building programmes for the judiciary and to provide technical support, obtain information, develop common approaches and sharing of good practices on human rights. The Colloquium also emphasized the need to compile a regional reference guide in respect of the AHRD and relevant international human rights instruments. Where appropriate, it was also suggested for the AICHR to further consult and collaborate with relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, and other entities including the CACJ, ASEAN Law Association (ALA), members of CSOs as well as other international and national organizations.

AICHR Regional Workshop on Strengthening National Plans of Action on Trafficking in Persons to Ensure Effective Implementation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and ASEAN Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (APA), Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1 & 2 December 2016

Posted on: 4 December, 2016

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) conducted a Regional Workshop on Strengthening National Plans of Action on Trafficking in Persons to Ensure Effective Implementation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and ASEAN Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (APA) on 1 – 2 December 2016 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The Workshop was organized and led by the AICHR-Cambodia, with the support from the Republic of Korea (ROK) through ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund.

H.E. Keo Remy, the President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee was the Keynote Speaker of the Workshop. As the first country to ratify the ACTIP, H.E. Remy highlighted Cambodia’s commitments and efforts to counter trafficking in persons (TIP) covering various key strategies, notably the strengthening of laws and policies by enactment of various national anti-trafficking laws. In their remarks, the Chair of the AICHR, H.E. Mr Phoukhong Sisoulath and the Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, H.E. Ms. Polyne Hean highlighted that this Workshop is part of the AICHR’s continued commitment to facilitate the mainstreaming of human rights-based approach in the implementation of the ACTIP and APA.

The Workshop was attended by relevant ASEAN Organs and Sectoral Bodies, international agencies as well as relevant Cambodian line ministries responsible for counter-trafficking. It examined the good practices and challenges of the national plans of action on TIP both inside and outside the ASEAN region. Some of the good practices highlighted include bilateral arrangements among the sending and receiving countries, the use of technology and social media to enhance anti-TIP efforts as well as the establishment of specialist units within the national agencies of the AMS to better address the issues of TIP. In terms of challenges, common issues faced by ASEAN Member States (AMS) include the limitation of resources and proper victims identification system.

The Workshop deliberated the recommendations to strengthen the national plans of action on TIP and looked into ways and means to integrate the provisions of the ACTIP and APA into the national plans of action, policies and legislation of the AMS. The relevant AMS were encouraged to ratify the ACTIP, integrate its provisions into their national plans of action and undertake mid-term stock-taking of their national plans of action to ensure their coherence with the ACTIP and APA.

 

AICHR Seminar on Promoting CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, 3-4 November 2016, Singapore

Posted on: 4 November, 2016

Singapore Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor with EU Ambassador to ASEAN Ambassador Francisco Fontan Pardo, Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore Ambassador Håkan Jevrell, Regional Cluster Leader of the United Nations Development Programme Phil Matsheza, CEO of ASEAN CSR Network Thomas Thomas, Chair of ASEAN CSR Network Yanti Triwadiantini, and AICHR Representatives

Singapore Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor with EU Ambassador to ASEAN Ambassador Francisco Fontan Pardo, Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore Ambassador Håkan Jevrell, Regional Cluster Leader of the United Nations Development Programme Phil Matsheza, CEO of ASEAN CSR Network Thomas Thomas, Chair of ASEAN CSR Network Yanti Triwadiantini, and AICHR Representatives

The AICHR Seminar on Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Rights in ASEAN was successfully held from 3 to 4 November 2016 in Singapore.  The Seminar, a follow-up from the AICHR Baseline Study on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, was co-organised by AICHR-Singapore and the ASEAN CSR Network (ACN), and received the kind support of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) Human Rights Facility and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).   

In line with a multi-stakeholder approach to CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, the Seminar drew many participants from across ASEAN and outside the region from various sectors, including government officials, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), businesses, civil society, trade unions, and academia.
 
Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and Ministry of Health, Dr Amy Khor was the Guest-of-Honour for the Seminar.  Dr Khor spoke on “The Nexus between CSR and Human Rights”, and explained how economic growth and a clean environment could be pursued hand-in-hand to achieve sustainable development. 
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong kicks off the discussion on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong kicks off the discussion on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN

Former ASEAN Secretary-General and Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Ambassador Ong Keng Yong delivered a keynote address on The Way Forward for CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN.  The Seminar also saw the sharing of best practices and experiences from international and regional speakers including Swedish Ambassador for CSR Diana Madunic and member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights Dante Pesce.
 
The Seminar explored the role of governments, businesses, trade unions and civil society organisations (CSOs) in promoting CSR, as well as possible elements of a regional strategy on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, a recommendation of the Baseline Study.  Such a regional strategy would support the fulfilment of the aspirations of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which calls for the building upon and deepening of the integration process to realise a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN Community.

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.