Total Reform Is Needed to Make AICHR Independent, Effective and Relevant to the ASEAN Peoples

Letter from ACSC/APF 2012 Steering Committee on civil society inputs on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).

 

Phnom Penh, advice 24 April 2012

H.E. Om Yentieng

Chairperson

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

No. 3, Samdech Hun Sen Street,

Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamcarmon,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fax: + 855 23 216 144/216 141

Cc:

H.E. Chet Chealy

Alternate Representative of Cambodia to AICHR

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC)

No.3, St. VI.13 Tuol Kork Village, Sangkat Tuol Sangke,

Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 23 882 065, Fax. +855 23 882 065

Email: chetchealy@gmail.com

Ms. Leena Ghosh,

Assistant Director

AIPA, ASEAN Foundation, AICHR and Other ASEAN Associated Entities Division

Community Affairs Development Directorate

Corporate and Community Affairs Department

ASEAN Secretariat

E-mail: leena.ghosh@asean.org

Re:      Submission of ACSC/APF 2012 related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Dear Excellencies,

On behalf of the Civil Society Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF 2012), we are pleased to submit to you civil society’s aspirations related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). More than 1,200 people attended the ACSC/APF 2012 that was organized in Lucky Star Hotel, Phnom Penh on 29-31 March 2012. They came from all ten ASEAN countries and beyond.

We also would like to use this opportunity to convey our interest to participate in the consultation that AICHR will be planning to do in the late June 2012. To ensure that the consultation would be meaningful, we encourage AICHR to make the draft available to the public. We understand that you value the trust and credibility from the people in ASEAN which can only be obtained through a transparent process.

Furthermore, we believe that AHRD is a very important document for the daily life of the people, which requires legitimacy from the population in ASEAN. With the advance of communication technology nowadays, AICHR could create a website to release the draft of AHRD which allows more public participation in making comments and inputs.

Please feel free to contact Steering Committee should you have further question or clarification at the email samath@ngoforum.org.kh and thida_khus@silaka.org. Hard copies will follow this email.

Please, Excellency, accept our highest consideration.

Chair, Steering Committee ACSC/APF 2012

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath                        Mrs. Thida Khus

 


 Aspirations of Civil Society’s during the ACSC/APF 2012 on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

1.    We are deeply disappointed at the secret, exclusionary and opaque drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to consult ASEAN civil society to a meaningful extent on the regional level, and only a few representatives consulted on the national level. A draft produced by the Drafting Group in January was never officially published. CSO submissions were left without response, resulting in CSOs being left in the dark as to whether their input has been taken into account.

 2.    Substantively, the Working Draft, which has not been officially published, discloses worrying tendencies among the drafters which, if they prevail, would provide the ASEAN people with a lower level of human rights protection than in universal and other regional instruments. There is heavy emphasis on concepts such as duties, national and regional particularities and noninterference – all of which may be abused to legitimise human rights violations.

 3.    Problematic terms such as “good citizens” and “public morality” may open the door to abusive and discriminatory interpretations, in particular regarding women, LGBTIQ people, children, IPs and minorities and other often-marginalised groups. Several provisions for specific rights are inadequate, open to abuse, or else are missing key components. Thus freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of LGBTIQ people from discrimination and gender rights are not properly provided for.

 4.    We recommend that the AICHR, ASEAN and/or its Member States:

  • Immediately publicize the most current draft of AHRD so that civil society can participate substantively in the drafting process;
  • Continue and expand meaningful consultations on national level, in particular by those AICHR representatives who have not yet done so;
  • Conduct wide-ranging and inclusive consultations, at both national and regional levels, during which the latest drafts of the AHRD should be discussed. AICHR should seriously consider submissions from CSOs, national human rights institutes and other stakeholders, and provide them with feedback;
  • Translate drafts of the AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public engagement in the region;
  • Include a) the “Right to Peace”, b)  sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provision AHRD – specifically the inclusion of reference to ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’, and c) sexual reproductive health and rights in AHRD;

 5.    Recommendation in regard to women’s human rights perspectives in AHRD:

  • AHRD should enable women’s access to justice in Southeast Asia;
  • ASEAN governments take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices which limit women from enjoying their fundamental freedoms and rights;
  • Women’s human rights perspectives, reflected in the CEDAW and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action must be integrated into AHRD;
  • There is no erosion of rights in the AHRD and no inclusion of ‘morality, moral value

or traditional values’ clauses that serve to undermine rights; and

  • The AHRD drafting process must be subjected to public consultation and must involve women.

 

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Letter from ACSC/APF 2012 Steering Committee on civil society inputs on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)

DOWNLOAD LETTER IN PDF


 Aspirations of Civil Society’s during the ACSC/APF 2012 on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

1.    We are deeply disappointed at the secret, exclusionary and opaque drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to consult ASEAN civil society to a meaningful extent on the regional level, sovaldi and only a few representatives consulted on the national level. A draft produced by the Drafting Group in January was never officially published. CSO submissions were left without response, resulting in CSOs being left in the dark as to whether their input has been taken into account.

 2.    Substantively, the Working Draft, which has not been officially published, discloses worrying tendencies among the drafters which, if they prevail, would provide the ASEAN people with a lower level of human rights protection than in universal and other regional instruments. There is heavy emphasis on concepts such as duties, national and regional particularities and noninterference – all of which may be abused to legitimise human rights violations.

 3.    Problematic terms such as “good citizens” and “public morality” may open the door to abusive and discriminatory interpretations, in particular regarding women, LGBTIQ people, children, IPs and minorities and other often-marginalised groups. Several provisions for specific rights are inadequate, open to abuse, or else are missing key components. Thus freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of LGBTIQ people from discrimination and gender rights are not properly provided for.

 4.    We recommend that the AICHR, ASEAN and/or its Member States:

  • Immediately publicize the most current draft of AHRD so that civil society can participate substantively in the drafting process;
  • Continue and expand meaningful consultations on national level, in particular by those AICHR representatives who have not yet done so;
  • Conduct wide-ranging and inclusive consultations, at both national and regional levels, during which the latest drafts of the AHRD should be discussed. AICHR should seriously consider submissions from CSOs, national human rights institutes and other stakeholders, and provide them with feedback;
  • Translate drafts of the AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public engagement in the region;
  • Include a) the “Right to Peace”, b)  sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provision AHRD – specifically the inclusion of reference to ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’, and c) sexual reproductive health and rights in AHRD;

 5.    Recommendation in regard to women’s human rights perspectives in AHRD:

  • AHRD should enable women’s access to justice in Southeast Asia;
  • ASEAN governments take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices which limit women from enjoying their fundamental freedoms and rights;
  • Women’s human rights perspectives, reflected in the CEDAW and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action must be integrated into AHRD;
  • There is no erosion of rights in the AHRD and no inclusion of ‘morality, moral value

or traditional values’ clauses that serve to undermine rights; and

  • The AHRD drafting process must be subjected to public consultation and must involve women.

 

Phnom Penh, 24 April 2012

H.E. Om Yentieng

Chairperson

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

No. 3, Samdech Hun Sen Street,

Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamcarmon,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fax: + 855 23 216 144/216 141

Cc:

H.E. Chet Chealy

Alternate Representative of Cambodia to AICHR

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC)

No.3, St. VI.13 Tuol Kork Village, Sangkat Tuol Sangke,

Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 23 882 065, Fax. +855 23 882 065

Email: chetchealy@gmail.com

Ms. Leena Ghosh,

Assistant Director

AIPA, ASEAN Foundation, AICHR and Other ASEAN Associated Entities Division

Community Affairs Development Directorate

Corporate and Community Affairs Department

ASEAN Secretariat

E-mail: leena.ghosh@asean.org

Re:      Submission of ACSC/APF 2012 related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Dear Excellencies,

On behalf of the Civil Society Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF 2012), we are pleased to submit to you civil society’s aspirations related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). More than 1,200 people attended the ACSC/APF 2012 that was organized in Lucky Star Hotel, Phnom Penh on 29-31 March 2012. They came from all ten ASEAN countries and beyond.

We also would like to use this opportunity to convey our interest to participate in the consultation that AICHR will be planning to do in the late June 2012. To ensure that the consultation would be meaningful, we encourage AICHR to make the draft available to the public. We understand that you value the trust and credibility from the people in ASEAN which can only be obtained through a transparent process.

Furthermore, we believe that AHRD is a very important document for the daily life of the people, which requires legitimacy from the population in ASEAN. With the advance of communication technology nowadays, AICHR could create a website to release the draft of AHRD which allows more public participation in making comments and inputs.

Please feel free to contact Steering Committee should you have further question or clarification at the email samath@ngoforum.org.kh and thida_khus@silaka.org. Hard copies will follow this email.

Please, Excellency, accept our highest consideration.

Chair, Steering Committee ACSC/APF 2012

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath                        Mrs. Thida Khus


Letter from ACSC/APF 2012 Steering Committee on civil society inputs on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).

 

Phnom Penh, shop 24 April 2012

H.E. Om Yentieng

Chairperson

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

No. 3, for sale Samdech Hun Sen Street,

Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamcarmon,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fax: + 855 23 216 144/216 141

Cc:

H.E. Chet Chealy

Alternate Representative of Cambodia to AICHR

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC)

No.3, St. VI.13 Tuol Kork Village, Sangkat Tuol Sangke,

Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 23 882 065, Fax. +855 23 882 065

Email: chetchealy@gmail.com

Ms. Leena Ghosh,

Assistant Director

AIPA, ASEAN Foundation, AICHR and Other ASEAN Associated Entities Division

Community Affairs Development Directorate

Corporate and Community Affairs Department

ASEAN Secretariat

E-mail: leena.ghosh@asean.org

Re:      Submission of ACSC/APF 2012 related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Dear Excellencies,

On behalf of the Civil Society Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF 2012), we are pleased to submit to you civil society’s aspirations related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). More than 1,200 people attended the ACSC/APF 2012 that was organized in Lucky Star Hotel, Phnom Penh on 29-31 March 2012. They came from all ten ASEAN countries and beyond.

We also would like to use this opportunity to convey our interest to participate in the consultation that AICHR will be planning to do in the late June 2012. To ensure that the consultation would be meaningful, we encourage AICHR to make the draft available to the public. We understand that you value the trust and credibility from the people in ASEAN which can only be obtained through a transparent process.

Furthermore, we believe that AHRD is a very important document for the daily life of the people, which requires legitimacy from the population in ASEAN. With the advance of communication technology nowadays, AICHR could create a website to release the draft of AHRD which allows more public participation in making comments and inputs.

Please feel free to contact Steering Committee should you have further question or clarification at the email samath@ngoforum.org.kh and thida_khus@silaka.org. Hard copies will follow this email.

Please, Excellency, accept our highest consideration.

Chair, Steering Committee ACSC/APF 2012

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath                        Mrs. Thida Khus

 


 Aspirations of Civil Society’s during the ACSC/APF 2012 on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

1.    We are deeply disappointed at the secret, exclusionary and opaque drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to consult ASEAN civil society to a meaningful extent on the regional level, and only a few representatives consulted on the national level. A draft produced by the Drafting Group in January was never officially published. CSO submissions were left without response, resulting in CSOs being left in the dark as to whether their input has been taken into account.

 2.    Substantively, the Working Draft, which has not been officially published, discloses worrying tendencies among the drafters which, if they prevail, would provide the ASEAN people with a lower level of human rights protection than in universal and other regional instruments. There is heavy emphasis on concepts such as duties, national and regional particularities and noninterference – all of which may be abused to legitimise human rights violations.

 3.    Problematic terms such as “good citizens” and “public morality” may open the door to abusive and discriminatory interpretations, in particular regarding women, LGBTIQ people, children, IPs and minorities and other often-marginalised groups. Several provisions for specific rights are inadequate, open to abuse, or else are missing key components. Thus freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of LGBTIQ people from discrimination and gender rights are not properly provided for.

 4.    We recommend that the AICHR, ASEAN and/or its Member States:

  • Immediately publicize the most current draft of AHRD so that civil society can participate substantively in the drafting process;
  • Continue and expand meaningful consultations on national level, in particular by those AICHR representatives who have not yet done so;
  • Conduct wide-ranging and inclusive consultations, at both national and regional levels, during which the latest drafts of the AHRD should be discussed. AICHR should seriously consider submissions from CSOs, national human rights institutes and other stakeholders, and provide them with feedback;
  • Translate drafts of the AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public engagement in the region;
  • Include a) the “Right to Peace”, b)  sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provision AHRD – specifically the inclusion of reference to ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’, and c) sexual reproductive health and rights in AHRD;

 5.    Recommendation in regard to women’s human rights perspectives in AHRD:

  • AHRD should enable women’s access to justice in Southeast Asia;
  • ASEAN governments take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices which limit women from enjoying their fundamental freedoms and rights;
  • Women’s human rights perspectives, reflected in the CEDAW and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action must be integrated into AHRD;
  • There is no erosion of rights in the AHRD and no inclusion of ‘morality, moral value

or traditional values’ clauses that serve to undermine rights; and

  • The AHRD drafting process must be subjected to public consultation and must involve women.

 

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Bangkok, and online 27 April, prescription for sale (Asian Tribune.com):The performance of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has been disappointing and wanting, epitomized by the lack of transparency, failure to consult with civil society organizations and no demonstrable progress in protecting and promoting human rights, according to a civil society assessment report on the performance of the AICHR for the period of October 2010 to December 2011.

The report, titled “A Commission Shrouded in Secrecy”, was released jointly on Thursday by the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

The civil society coalition said a total reform is needed if the AICHR is to become more independent from the governments, more effective in responding to human rights violations and more relevant to the needs of the peoples in the region.

The report revealed that AICHR has systematically failed to make public any of the official documents adopted since its inception in 2009. This includes its first annual report, which was submitted to the 44th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 2011.

Other official AICHR documents that have not been made public include the Guidelines on Operations of the AICHR, the Terms of Reference of the Drafting Group of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the Terms of Reference of the Baseline Study on Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Rights in ASEAN, the Rules of Procedure for the AICHR Fund, the first annual report of the AICHR, the AICHR Work Plan 2013-2015, its 2012 Priority Programme and its budget, and the Terms of Reference of the Thematic Study of the Right to Peace.

“We are extremely concerned that AICHR has not even made the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration available for public comments. It is ironic that the peoples in the region do not have the right to access a document that is supposed to protect their human rights,” said Yap Swee Seng, executive director of FORUM-ASIA during the launch of the report.

The report found that the AICHR has continued to refuse meetings with civil society organizations and national human rights institutions in the region despite numerous requests made.

The report further slammed the AICHR for discriminating against civil society organizations in Southeast Asia whom it refused to meet, but on the other hand did not hesitate to meet with a range of international civil society organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Freedom House during its official visits to the United States and Europe.

“While we welcome the meetings between the AICHR with international human rights organizations and note that such engagements should be encouraged, the Commission’s refusal to meet with civil society organizations from its own region when it had no qualms in meeting with international civil society organizations is simply a practice of double standards,” stressed Chalida Tajaroensuk, executive director of People’s Empowerment Foundation of Thailand, a member of the SAPA TFAHR.

SAPA TFAHR first requested for a meeting with the AICHR during its first official meeting in March 2010. The request was rejected on the grounds that the AICHR had yet to establish its rules of procedure and therefore could not meet with civil society. The performance report of AICHR shows that the Commission only granted meeting request from only a single civil society organization – the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism – ostensibly on the basis that they are listed as stakeholders recognized by ASEAN under Annex II of the ASEAN Charter.

The report also raised concern over the AICHR’s failures in concluding any of the studies that it has undertaken, in concretely responding to real human rights situations – either in the region generally or in specific member states – and most worryingly, failed to improve the human rights of even a single individual within the ASEAN regional, two years after its establishment.

The AICHR has identified three thematic issues for further study, namely migration, corporate social responsibility and human rights and the right to peace. So far, the terms of reference for these studies have not been made public. It was also expected to give its advisory opinion to the ASEAN member states on the issue of mandatory HIV test for migrant workers but to date has still failed to do so.

The report made numerous recommendations to the AICHR. Key among them are for the AICHR to be more transparent by publishing relevant documents, including the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, via a dedicated website; and to institutionalize regular consultations at national and regional levels with key stakeholders, especially the civil society organizations, national human rights institutions and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

“The AICHR must strive to improve its transparency and engagement with civil society in the coming years. Otherwise, it risks being an irrelevant body to the peoples in the region,” said Saowalak Thongkuay, Regional Development Office of the Disable Peoples’ International Asia Pacific.

Source: http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2012/04/26/total-reform-needed-make-aichr-independent-effective-and-relevant-asean-peoples

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