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ASEAN Civil Society Calls for Broad Public Consultation on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and Make the Draft declaration Public

 (Bali/Bangkok, 29 November 2011) The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) should conduct broad public consultations with all stakeholders, especially civil society organizations (CSOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs), in drafting the historic ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), urged representatives of civil society organizations and people's movements participating in the 4th Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights held in Bali from November 27-29. The groups call on the AICHR to ensure the ASEAN human rights declaration does not fall below international human rights laws and standards.

"We are disappointed that the AICHR has thus far failed to engage with all stakeholders in the drafting of the ASEAN human rights declaration that will have far reaching impacts on the rights and livelihood of all people in the region. We call on the AICHR to be transparent and accountable and make public any drafts of ASEAN human rights declaration for input and comments from the public," said Haris Azhar, coordinator of KontraS and co-convenors of the SAPA-TFAHR, one of the organizers of the regional consultation.

In response to a statement yesterday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who called on the AICHR to be more transparent and ensure true engagement with civil society, in particular in drafting the AHRD, Azhar said the statement from the High Commissioner was very timely, helpful and consistent with the aspiration of the ASEAN to be a people-oriented ASEAN. "The conference participants welcomed the statement and urged the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to monitor closely the drafting process of the ASEAN human rights declaration and the ASEAN regional human rights mechanisms."

The participants of the regional consultation warned that the ASEAN human rights declaration being drafted now by the AICHR may undermine international human rights laws and standards if the ASEAN concepts of non-interference, “consideration of national, cultural and historical particularities" and "balancing rights and duties" are interpreted as a license for imposing constraints on the enjoyment of human rights.

"Given the non-transparent drafting process of the Declaration, we fear that these misconceptions may become tools by certain states to downgrade human rights provisions and protections with the absence of public scrutiny. ASEAN peoples deserve similar rights as enjoyed by all human beings in the rest of the world and it is imperative that the peoples in ASEAN are engaged and consulted in a meaningful, genuine and substantive way,” said Yap Swee Seng, executive director of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

Concerns have also been raised by the civil society representatives about the alignment of roles and mandates between the AICHR and ACWC. “We call on the AICHR to discuss and resolve this issue on the basis of independence, equal standing and complementing each other’s work in the interest of the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children. We are very much encouraged by the openness of the ACWC to engage and collaborate with civil society organizations right from the first official meeting of the ACWC and call on the AICHR to engage the ACWC in the drafting of the ASEAN human rights declaration,” said Nina Somera, representative of the Southeast Asian Women's Caucus on ASEAN.

The 4th Regional Consultation was opened with a keynote speech by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, who had a series of meetings with the AICHR, the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the Southeast Asian National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) and civil society organizations during her stay in Bali. The regional consultation was co-organized by the Solidarity for Asian People's Advocacy Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA-TFAHR), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development and KontraS.    

For inquiry, please contact,

1.Mr. Haris Azhar, coordinator of KontraS, co-convenor cum national focal point for Indonesia of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile:+62 815 13302342(Indonesia), email: haris_azhar@yahoo.com
2.Mr. Yap Swee Seng, executive director of FORUM-ASIA, co-convenor of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile: +62 812 98793605(Indonesia),+66 81 8689178(Thailand), email:yap@forum-asia.org
3.Mr. Tan Kong Soon, president of Think Center, national focal points for Singapore of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile:+65 91077905(Singapore), email:t_kong-soon@hotmail.com
4.     Ms. Patcharee Sae-eaw, advocacy officer of People’s Empowerment Foundation, national focal points for Thailand of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile: +66 81 5898978, email: patch.s@gmail.com
5.Mr. Qeung Jeudy, representative of ADHOC, national focal points for Cambodia of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile: +855 12 714147, email:chracsecretariat@yahoo.com
6.     Mr. Egay Calibatan Jr., representative of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, national focal point for Philippines of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile: +66 92 19645017, email:egay.advocacytfdp@gmail.com
7.Ms. Cynthia Gabriel, representative of SUARAM, national focal point for Malaysia of SAPA-TFAHR, mobile: +60 12 3792189, email: cynthiagabriel2@gmail.com
8.Ms. Nina Somera, representative of the Southeast Asia’s Women Caucus on ASEAN, mobile: +62 878 36563943(Indonesia), email: nina@apwld.org
9.     Ms. Julia Mayerhofer, representative of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), mobile: +66 89 1125761 (Thailand), email: aprrn.officer@gmail.com
10.  Ms. Joan Carling, coordinator of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), mobile: , email: joan@aippnet.org
11.  Ms. Maulani A Rotinsulu, representative of the Disabled Peoples International Asia Pacific (DPI-AP), mobile: +62 812 8253598, email: rotinsulu.maulani@gmail.com