Public consultation on the ASEAN human rights body

28 August 2008

MARUAH is organising a public consultation on 6th September 2008 to collect feedback from Singaporeans regarding the ASEAN human rights body.

Why is your input important?
Across ASEAN, the views of various stakeholders are being sought with regard to the proposed ASEAN human rights body. It is important that Singaporeans have a say in this process.

Why is the ASEAN human rights body important?
In its recent progress chart (PDF) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations (UN) said the South-East Asian region as a whole is not expected to meet 4 of the 8 MDG targets. These 4 are:
Goal 2 – universal primary schooling
Goal 3 – gender equality and empowerment of women
Goal 5 – improve maternal health
Goal 6 – combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

The UN also said in a report that the human rights focus must be re-emphasised if the MDGs are to be achieved in a sustainable manner.

This is why it is so important that an effective ASEAN human rights body is established, and that a rights-based approach is taken as ASEAN works towards its 3 pillars (Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural) of development. A rights-based approach would help to ensure that, in the shaping and implementation of policies, there is both transparency and accountability. It is another way to really help the people in our region.

Details of public consultation
Date: 6th September 2008, Saturday
Time: 10am to 1pm
Venue: Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)
96 Waterloo Street
Singapore 187967

Please register early with the MARUAH Secretariat with your name, organisation and contact details via email:

Regional Consultation on the ASEAN commission on the rights of women and children and the ASEAN human rights body

28 August 2008

MARUAH will be participating in the above-mentioned consultation, scheduled to be held at Bangkok, Thailand, from 15th to 17th September 2008. MARUAH will be represented by Ms Braema Mathi, who is also the Chairperson of the CEDAW Committee at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE).

The consultation aims to

– provide an update on recent developments in ASEAN

– develop a regional civil society advocacy strategy on the establishment of both the ASEAN Commission on the rights of women and children, and the ASEAN human rights body.

– help the women and child rights groups step up the engagement process with ASEAN

MARUAH takes part in 2nd Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights

28 August 2008

Ms Braema Mathi from MARUAH recently attended the 2nd Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights, held in Jakarta on 5-7th August 2008.

The consultation brought together representatives from various NGOs, Indonesian Government, ASEAN Secretariat, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, and National Human Rights Institutions in ASEAN.

Discussion centred around how the proposed ASEAN human rights body would be able to address critical human rights issues confronting ASEAN.

Participants shared their views on strategies to engage effectively with ASEAN governments, ASEAN Secretariat, and High Level Panel (HLP) members.

Human rights of migrant workers in ASEAN

28 August 2008

At the 7th Workshop on the ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights (held in Singapore 12-13 June 2008), Ms Braema Mathi of MARUAH spoke on issues faced by migrants workers in ASEAN. We enclose a PDF of her presentation.

Human Rights in Singapore 101

8 August 2008

Mr Siew Kum Hong, a member of MARUAH, spoke at the recent SYINConnect conference. His topic was “Human Rights in Singapore 101”.

Click here to view the slides presented on that day.

MARUAH submits comments on draft CRC report

8 August 2008

MARUAH recently made a submission to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), as part of a public consultation on the draft report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Having ratified the CRC in 1995, Singapore is obliged to submit a report every 5 years to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

See here for a previous post on this issue.

Below is our submission.

Comments on Singapore’s Draft Periodic Report on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

MARUAH welcomes the Government’s attempts in engaging with Singaporeans’ views in its Periodic Report to be submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We have been heartened by the response of Singaporeans on this document even though their opinions were articulated in a private context (closed-door event). We look forward to public dialogues between the people and the Government in future forums.

MARUAH notes that the CRC, together with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), is a core human rights treaty that all ASEAN states have acceded to, or ratified. We therefore believe that it is important for Singapore to be a leader within the ASEAN family in upholding the values and obligations of the CRC. Accordingly, MARUAH, as a group focusing on the establishment of the ASEAN human rights body, is glad for this opportunity to be of assistance in the ongoing process of human rights development in Singapore and by extension ASEAN.

MARUAH makes the following comments:

General measures of implementation

1. Declarations and reservations
1.a. MARUAH highlights one of the Government’s reservation on compulsory education
“(6) With respect to article 28.1(a), the Republic of Singapore – (a) does not consider itself bound by the requirement to make primary education compulsory because such a measure is unnecessary in our social context where in practice virtually all children attend primary school;”
1.b. MARUAH calls for the above reservation to be removed in light of the implementation of the Compulsory Education Act in Singapore

2. Dissemination
2.a. Too few know about the CRC, especially children
2.b. MARUAH calls for the CRC to be included in the school syllabus
2.c. MARUAH is also concerned that the draft report was only disseminated in early July 2008, with only 1 month for public consultation
2.d. MARUAH understands that the forum held on 2nd July to discuss the draft report was a closed-door event (as reported by TODAY), and not a public forum
2.e. MARUAH calls for greater public consultation on the CRC report; specifically, MCYS needs to engage the young

Basic health and welfare

3. Children with disabilities
3.a. Children with disabilities are not fully integrated into the education system
3.b. They should be given every opportunity to interact with other children on a regular basis
3.c. Include special schools and all children with disabilities under the Compulsory Education Act

Special protection measures

4. Juvenile justice
4.a. MCYS mentions “Notwithstanding the lower age of protection, there are currently safeguards and protective mechanisms within Singapore’s legislative framework to provide added protection to young offenders between 16 and 18.” (page 98, point 5.3)
4.b. What are the specific “safeguards and protective mechanisms”?
4.c. MARUAH notes that the MCYS report does not address the concerns raised by CRC committee [45a) on following UN guidelines, 45d) on prohibition of corporal punishment during detention]

Optional Protocols

5. MARUAH calls on Singapore to ratify the 2 Optional Protocols under CRC
5.a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Singaporeans engaged in paedophilia outside of Singapore should be subjected to the “long-arm” of the law.
5.b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

In conclusion, we at MARUAH applaud the Government and all Singaporeans who participated in this dialogue for producing a document that is worthy of a society that prides itself for its child-friendly family values. We hope the amendments that we seek will be considered, and look forward to contributing to the larger process of establishing a culture of respect for fundamental human rights in Singapore.