Human Rights Defenders slam Asean watchdog for being toothless

July 5, 2013

A network of Asean civil society organisations unveiled its review of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights [AICHR] on 20 June reports the Bangkok Post. The evaluation (a 190-page study called “Still Window-Dressing”) is the third critical assessment of the AICHR’s work since 2011. The civic group, called the Solidarity for Asian Peoples Advocacy Taskforce on Asean and Human Rights, urged the 10-member AICHR to arrange more meaningful engagement with civic groups. Shiwei Ye, the main researcher on the report, said there was a wide range of human rights defenders in the region who have been blocked or imprisoned. Cases had been recorded in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, he said. The AICHR has so far been silent and has taken no visible action over this, he added. Mr Ye said the AICHR has made few improvements over the past three years. A major factor contributing to the regional body’s failure is an unwillingness on the part of the bloc’s member states to act against human rights violations, he said. “Asean governments have paid only lip service and have been unwilling to take a step forward in protecting the rights of the people,” he said. If the situation stays the same, the AICHR could find its relevance decreasing, he said. He added that the five-year review of the AICHR’s terms of reference due next year will be an important step for the body. Civil society groups hope next year’s review would allow them to engage with the human rights body and prompt Asean governments to unshackle the AICHR so it can fulfill its mandate. 

via Groups slam Asean watchdog for being toothless, secretive | Bangkok Post: news.

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