Yohanna Ririhena, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
October 24 2012,
Despite appreciation for its efforts during its first three years,
civil society groups in ASEAN urge the ASEAN Intergovernmental
Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to strengthen its role and evolve
into a credible, independent, responsive and accessible regional human
The recommendation was issued at the second
Workshop on the strengthening of ASEAN human rights systems in Phnom
Penh on Tuesday, AICHR’s three-year anniversary.
two-day workshop, civil society groups from Brunei Darussalam,
Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines,
Singapore and Vietnam gathered to exchange experiences and advocacy
approaches to improve the promotion and protection of human rights.
workshop was organized by Indonesia’s Human Rights Working Group
(HRWG), the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, and Cambodian
Human Rights and Development Association.
“We urge AICHR to be
more open, inclusive, participatory and transparent in its ways of
working, decision-making and procedures, including agenda-setting,
planning and other relevant deliberations,” the groups said.
should also ensure that its activities, decisions and plans of action
are available to the general public to generate awareness and support.
Wahyuningrum of the HRWG, an umbrella organization for dozens of
Indonesian human rights NGOs, underlined that there was a lot of work
for AICHR to do.
“AICHR must assert its independence. At least
in the recruitment process where most member states prefer appointment
rather than open recruitment,” Yuyun told The Jakarta Post through an
The first term of AICHR representatives ends soon.
Indonesia is selecting a new representative and will announce the
result at the end of this month. The two candidates are AICHR incumbent
Rafendi Djamin and noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis.
other ASEAN member-states, especially Malaysia, the Philippines and
Myanmar which already have national human right institutions, to follow
Indonesia and Thailand which have an open selection process.
was established in 2009 at the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Hua
Hin, Thailand. One of its key mandates was to prepare a draft human
rights declaration. After a long process, AICHR has finalized the draft
to be approved at the ASEAN Summit in November.
will be one of the most important documents drafted since the adoption
of the ASEAN Charter in 2007. However, the drafting process has been
criticized for its lack of public participation, particularly by civil
society organizations, who have been eager to participate from the
“We commend the initiative of drafting the ASEAN
Human Rights Declaration [AHRD] as an important milestone of human
rights standards in the region. However, we condemn the adoption of the
draft of AHRD as its contents are lower than international standards,
including the provisions on balancing of rights and responsibilities,
limitation of rights, national and regional particularities, public
morality and the non-recognition of rights in
relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, and indigenous people,” the groups said in its recommendation.