Human rights issues step into the regional spotlight

The Bangkok Post reports on updates to the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights.

Human rights issues step into the regional spotlight
* Published: 22/02/2010 at 12:00 AM
* Newspaper section: News

Five open seminars focusing on human rights issues will be held to gather information for the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

Rules and procedures for the region’s new human rights body _ which critics say already focuses too much on promotion, rather than protection, of people’s rights _ are being drafted by the ASEAN Secretariat.

Commissioner Sriprapha Petcharamesree last week met representatives of civil society groups at the Foreign Ministry.

Ms Sriprapha said she was organising the five roadshows in Bangkok and four other regions to tell the public what the regional human rights body will do.

An initial draft of the regulations would be ready for the commission’s first official meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, next month. A five-year working plan would be completed by July.

The commission (known as AICHR) has several priorities for this year, she said. They include raising awareness of AICHR, starting the process of drafting an ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, and undertaking two studies, on corporate social responsibility and migration.

The human rights body was launched at an ASEAN regional summit in Hua Hin last October.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened the summit by defending the rights body against criticism that it was powerless to rein in members that breached its rules, such as army-ruled Burma and communist Vietnam and Laos.

Mr Abhisit said the creation of the commission was a significant milestone in the evolution of ASEAN, launched while Thailand was ASEAN’s chair.

However, the human rights body has been widely criticised for focusing on promotion, rather than protection, of human rights. The UN has urged leaders to make the commission credible. ASEAN says it will review the body’s powers in five years.

About the author
Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Reporter

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