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Summary of Activity Report: AICHR – SOMTC Consultation Meeting on Human Rights Based-Approach in the Implementation of ACTIP and APA, Jakarta, 29-30 September 2016

Posted on: 11 November, 2016

The ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) is the first product of ASEAN that demonstrates a desire to work together as member states to combat a particular form of transnational crimes. Being a serious nature of the crime that continues to affect and take tolls on the lives of people using various modus of deception, abduction and exploitation, efforts to combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) need a human-rights based approach for a number of reasons.

First, because the modus operandi of TIP grows fast and complex, abusing existing cultural traditions (such as arranged marriages), lifestyle (such as desire to work abroad, to adopt children, or to enjoy lavish life), tourism, education, and vulnerabilities of families by using various means that is not easy to detect. Second, because the efforts to combat TIP more often lead to the victims and at individual recruiters rather than the mastermind and the demand side of the crime. Third, TIP is often mistakenly seen as merely immigration problem. Fourth, attention for victims and potential victims is only present to the extent that they are relevant for law enforcement purposes.

AICHR appreciates the warm gesture of the SOMTC to work together through a regular Consultation and Cooperation with AICHR to ensure that ASEAN’s effort to combat TIP is victim-oriented while also effective in combating the crime from its roots. This event in Jakarta is the First Consultation Meeting between AICHR and SOMTC which were attended by SOMTC Representatives, many of whom are in the leadership positions in the country’s units of anti transnational crime, the ACWC, SOMSWD, government officials and non-government organizations with consultative status of AICHR. AICHR is humbled by the enthusiastic participants who stayed fully through the event and the fruitful exchange of information and thinking to further human-rights based approach to combating TIP.

The Consultation highlighted the following points for going forward. First, AICHR noted the joint intention from the participants to continue working together across sectors with AICHR and SOMTC to implement human-rights based approach in combating TIP both through formal mechanism as well as informal means of cooperation. The informal means were usefully built through the consultation and the various activities AICHR is organizing on the topic of anti-TIP, which was recognized as needed for immediate response. Second, ASEAN noted the experience of Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore, the countries of ASEAN that have ratified ACTIP on how they prepared legal frameworks, capacity building activities, and financial support to combat TIP. ASEAN also learned how countries in Europe and the United States develop their procedures to interview victims and to investigate the crime to the roots. Third, segments of law enforcer and AICHR Representatives highlighted the importance of preventing this crime to cut down the crime cases given that investigations are taking some time and a mechanism for human-rights based approach in prosecution and victim rehabilitation is still undergoing.

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 related to 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.

We thank AICHR Indonesia for organizing this Consultation. We also recognize the work of AICHR Vietnam to recognize the importance of various means of communication and languages to promote human-rights based approach and the work of AICHR Cambodia to facilitate dialog on developing national action plans on anti TIP.  (*)

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.

The AICHR Annual Report 2016

Posted on: 1 August, 2016

This Annual Report covers the period between July 2015 and June 2016.

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened six AICHR Meetings, which included Special Meetings, and organised a series of activities in line with the annual Priority Programmes/Activities 2015/2016 for the period under review. In 2015, the AICHR convened workshops on ASEAN legal instruments on human rights, environment and climate change, rights of persons with disabilities, and trafficking in persons (TIP). The AICHR also held two regional events involving youths from all ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) to raise awareness of human rights among the young people of the region.

In support of the work of other ASEAN Sectoral Bodies dealing with human rights issues, the AICHR and the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) co-organised a Workshop on the “Human Rights-based Approach to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children” in November 2015.

On the external relations front, the AICHR, together with the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), and the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) met with the European Union for the first ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights.

Another notable progress in the work of the AICHR include the operationalization of the Guidelines on AICHR’s Relations with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and the granting of ‘Consultative Relationship’ status to eleven organisations. A new thematic study on women affected by natural disasters has commenced and is due for completion in 2017.

The AICHR has embarked on their second Five-Year Work Plan 2016-2020 with emphasis on a programmatic approach and regularisation of activities, for example, the second phase of the programme on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities. The beginning of 2016 saw a transition in the AICHR with eight new Representatives to the AICHR – from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Viet Nam – assuming office.

In line with the recommendation of the High Level Task Force (HLTF) on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs, the unit in the ASEAN Secretariat supporting the AICHR, now renamed as the Human Rights Division, moved from the ASEAN Community and Corporate Affairs Department (CCAD) to the ASEAN Political-Security Community Department (APSC) to provide dedicated support to the AICHR.

 The full report is available for download:

  The AICHR Annual Report 2016 (481.3 KiB, 2,212 hits)

PRESS RELEASE: AICHR – SOMTC Joint Workshop on Human Rights-based Approach to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 5 – 6 November 2015, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Posted on: 9 November, 2015

As ASEAN draws closer to the adoption of the ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and the ASEAN Plan of Action (APA), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) organised its first ever joint workshop on “Human Rights-based Approach to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children”. Among its objectives is an exchange of ideas between the AICHR, SOMTC, and other relevant ASEAN bodies/sectoral bodies on how human rights and gender perspective should be applied under the ACTIP and its APA.

The Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, Mr. Rafendi Djamin, underlined that no ASEAN Member State (AMS) is free from the issue of trafficking of women and children, and that it takes place in any form – whether during or after disasters, in the movement of migrant labour, irregular migration caused by war, internal armed conflict, as well as extreme poverty. He emphasised that all forms of trafficking – including force labour, sex labour, or child force labour – are against human dignity and should not exist in modern era. He further stated that trafficking does not come in vacuum, but could be the excess of poverty, irregular migration, war and natural disaster. Finally, he identified that the crosscutting nature of trafficking of women and children could be a start for better cooperation and/or coordination amongst relevant organs/bodies/sectoral bodies of ASEAN.

The Joint Workshop brought together more than seventy (70) participants – coming from the AICHR, SOMTC, various relevant ASEAN bodies/sectoral bodies, ASEAN Secretariat, relevant government agencies of AMS, National Human Rights Institutions of AMS, regional civil society organisations (CSOs), and United Nations (UN) specialised agencies.

 The Chair of SOMTC, H.E. Sieng Lapresse, preceded discussions with his Keynote Remarks – where he called upon participants to look into the affirmations contained in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD such as “to live in dignity”, freedom from “arbitrary interference with his or her privacy including personal data”, and “the right to free choice of employment”. He addressed that ASEAN should concentrate on the identification of the root cause on trafficking in persons. He viewed the Joint Workshop as the relevant forum and best opportunity for all stakeholders to initiate the development of the right legal structure and policies – building upon existing international law; the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons; Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; as well as the ASEAN Convention and ASEAN Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Discussions during plenary sessions touched upon human rights perspective on regional initiatives, priorities, as well as policies in combating trafficking in persons (TIPs); application of rights-based approaches towards the implementation on prevention of and protection from TIPs; and highlighted the issue of vulnerability of the people affected by disaster that could become victims of TIPs. Following joint presentation by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), and Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA) Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, discussions on TIPs for the first time looked into how it could be prevented and punished in situations of natural, as well as man-made disasters.

Following the Joint Workshop, a special closed discussion session between the AICHR, SOMTC, and relevant ASEAN organs/bodies/sectoral bodies was held – aimed to synthesize their efforts in the prevention, protection, and cooperation in addressing the issue of TIPs. The session finally generated recommendations on possible ways forward to further cooperation. Amongst the possible ways forward, whether already put forward in a work plan of each ASEAN bodies, or in form of a developing idea, include – discussions to raise awareness and understanding on ACTIP and APA after its adoption; an annual meeting between the AICHR, SOMTC, ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMTC) and other ASEAN sectoral bodies related to the issue of TIPs; inviting each other in any activities related to TIPs and human rights; information sharing on programmes of activities on TIPs; identifying areas of cooperation on mutual interest as part of the implementation of ACTIP and APA (e.g. victims of TIPs identification); and the socialisation on the ACWC’s ‘Guidelines on Protection of Women in Trafficked Situations’ through consultation with other ASEAN bodies/sectoral bodies – following its expected adoption in the upcoming 27th ASEAN Summit.


Press Release: The AICHR Workshop on Regional Mechanisms: Best practices on implementation of human rights (with partial support from UN Women and Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument)

Posted on: 21 November, 2014

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights held a two-day workshop on Regional Mechanisms: Best Practices on Implementation of Human Rights from 17-18 November 2014 at Eastin Grand Sathorn in Bangkok, Thailand. This Workshop was organised by the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR (H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot) with partial support from UN Women and Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument.


Special Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights on the Review of the Terms of Reference (TOR)

Posted on: 11 July, 2014

The AICHR Representatives' group photo at the Special Meeting on the Review of the TOR of AICHR

Singapore, 10-11 July 2014

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened a Special Meeting, in Singapore on 10 – 11 July 2014. The meeting was chaired by H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe, the Representative of Myanmar to AICHR and the Chair of the AICHR.


Second Regional Consultation on the Contribution to the Review of the Terms of Reference of the AICHR and the Special Meeting of the AICHR

Posted on: 30 June, 2014

A picture of the AICHR Representatives with the resource persons of the Second AICHR Regional Consultation on the Review of the TOR of AICHR

27 – 29 June 2014, Bangkok, Thailand

            The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) conducted a two-day Regional Consultation with stakeholders on the contribution to the review of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the AICHR on 27 – 28 June 2014. This is the second Consultation that the AICHR has conducted, following the first Consultation organized in Jakarta, Indonesia in April 2014.