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Pattaya Daily News

23 October 2009 :: 17:10:15 pm 31620

Asean Leaders Launch Regional Human Rights Body

HUA HIN, Oct 23 (TNA) - Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday officially inaugurated the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), a move hailed as a first and significant step towards building a more people-oriented ASEAN Community, but the move was angrily criticised as hypocritical by civil society representatives.
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In an inaugural ceremony, Thai Prime Minister and current ASEAN chair Abhisit Vejjajiva described the move “a significant milestone in the evolution of ASEAN” and stressed that it is the responsibility of the AICHR is to make it “credible and effective” in promoting and protecting human rights.

The commitment under the Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on the Inauguration of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) includes assurances by all 10 ASEAN-member countries to provide the AICHR with full support and adequate resources including a US$200,000 fund to support its activities during its first year of operation.

The declaration contains several provisions to strengthen the AICHR, for example, by reviewing its mandate and functions every five years, and by encouraging contribution of all stakeholders to the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN.

The Terms of Reference (TOR) of ASEAN’s agreement on the Rights of Women and Children was recently completed, and is scheduled to be set up as a Commission in 2010.

“For ASEAN, the issue of human rights is not about condemnation, but about awareness, empowerment and improvement,”  The Thai prime minister said. “Through AICHR, we shall not only demonstrate to the world that, human rights is a priority, but also (demonstrate) realistic and constructive ways to deal with it.”

The official launch of ASEAN human rights body came amid heavy criticism from the organisers of the ASEAN Peoples Forum and ASEAN Civil Society Conference which issued a statement lambasting the barring of five out of the 10 civil society representatives from the rare face-to-face talk with the ASEAN heads of government.

The statement said that the remaining representatives, though allowed to attend the event were instructed not to speak at the talk, while Singapore and Myanmar had selected substitutes from government-sponsored agencies.

Therefore, it said, the representatives of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia decided to walk out of the meeting.

“The behaviour of the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Philippines and Burma in rejecting their civil society representatives sabotages the credibility of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) which is being inaugurated today,” the statement said.

The organisers also said they were “deeply disappointed at the irresponsibility and apparent irrationality of the governments? position,” and asked the leaders to ?stop trying to kill the spirit of the ASEAN community.”

Such moves, they said, not only hurt the development of the region but also the credibility of individual member states and ASEAN as a whole.” (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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