AICHR holds another consultation on the prevention and countering torture in ASEAN
JAKARTA, 3 December 2020 – The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) organised the AICHR Consultation on the Implementation of Article 14 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD): Preventing and Countering Torture in Jakarta on 3-4 December. The event took place physically, adhering to a strict health protocol, and virtually.
Article 14 of AHRD enshrines that “no person shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
In her welcoming remarks, the Representative of Indonesia to AICHR, H.E. Wahyuningrum highlighted torture as one of the most horrendous violations of a person’s human rights and prohibited under International Laws, including the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), which six out of ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) have ratified.
At the consultation, Mr. Faizal Chery Sidharta, Director for ASEAN Political-Security Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia noted that ASEAN should set an example to the world on how to best prevent and counter torture.
Further, he mentioned that becoming the state party to UNCAT has strengthened the country’s legal systems, standards and practices to respect and protect human rights and also improved policy and institutional frameworks and engagement with stakeholders.
Since the ratification, Indonesia has amended its Constitution, revised its criminal law and enacted legislations to ascertain anti-torture guarantee and even created National Prevention Mechanisms through a multi-stakeholder approach in preventing torture.
On his part, the ASEAN Department’s Deputy Director-General of Viet Nam’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Duong Hai Hung highlighted AICHR’s strategic role in realising ASEAN’s commitments to prevent and counter torture as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as articulated in Article 14 of the AHRD.
The AICHR Consultation on the Implementation of Article 14 of the AHRD: Preventing and Countering Torture on 3-4 December emphasised the importance of exploring practical measures to prevent torture and provide rehabilitation services for torture victims and possible regional cooperation for an ASEAN Community that is free of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in line with Article 14 of the AHRD.
It also provided an avenue for sharing experiences and practices in preventing and countering torture among AMS and gather inputs from wider stakeholders in formulating the Recommendation on the Implementation of Article 14 of the AHRD.
Fifty-six participants attended the consultation including AICHR Representatives, representatives from Ministry of Justice and relevant ministries of AMS, civil society organisations, scholars, National Human Rights Institutions, and ASEAN sectoral bodies. International organisations such as Convention Against-Torture Initiatives, Association on the Prevention of Torture, Asia-Pacific Forum, and diplomatic community in Jakarta also participated in the Consultation.
The Consultation discussed the practices of State Parties to UNCAT in ASEAN region and shared some key principles in implementing Article 14 of the AHRD as well. Participants also discussed possible international and regional cooperation on the prevention of torture. Notably, they deliberated on efforts to build the capacity of law enforcement and medical doctors and psychologists through regular training, training of trainers, generating workshops as well as developing contextualised guidelines and strategies for torture prevention and rehabilitation in the region.
Furthermore, the Consultation underscored the importance of raising public awareness activities, i.e. through; (i) developing a web-page and publication on good practices in preventing and countering torture in AMS and multi-stakeholder dialogue forum; (ii) developing a rehabilitation model by taking into account the experience of torture rehabilitation centres; (iii) through consultations with torture victims to ensure that the services are safe and acceptable in their context.
The consultation concluded with facilitator Mr. Rafendi Djamin, Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR (2009-2015) sharing possible draft elements of a Roadmap Toward ASEAN Torture Free Community, namely: (a) raising awareness; (b) capacity building; (c) collaboration, (d) study and research; (e) legal and institutional development; and (f) narrative transformation.
AICHR has taken efforts to promote the implementation of Article 14 of the AHRD. In 2013, AICHR Indonesia initiated a discussion on the prevention of torture in the 2nd Jakarta Human Rights Dialogue, where participants agreed on the idea of making ASEAN as a torture-free Community. In 2015, AICHR held a workshop on the prevention and eradication of torture and in August 2018, the AICHR together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia have conducted capacity building activities for government officials in ASEAN on anti-torture in Semarang, Indonesia.
Not only the Consultation was in coherence with the 2017 ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society, but it also contributed to implementing the action points of the ASEAN Political Security Community blueprint.
There was a strong call from the participants for collaboration between AICHR and the stakeholders such as governments’ institutions, civil society, national human rights institutions, scholars to develop possible elements of a skeleton roadmap toward the realisation of the preventing and countering torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in ASEAN.
AICHR appreciates the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia towards the realisation of the Consultation.