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Drafters of rights doc say ‘secrecy’ no issue

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights yesterday denied accusations it was operating in secrecy and said that ASEAN matters were for ASEAN members only.

The AICHR, which has been tasked with drafting the region’s first ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, came under fire from rights groups over the weekend, which fear a lack of stakeholder consultation will make any declaration adopted unsatisfactory.

“We have never acted behind a wall in secrecy,” Chet Chealy, president of the Cambodia-ASEAN Center for Human Rights Development, said yesterday at the conclusion of the first meeting of the AICHR in Siem Reap City.

“We are working on making a basic draft of a specifically ASEAN Human Rights Declaration,” he said, referring to the primary document being used for deliberations amongst ASEAN members.

“We have to discuss this with ASEAN members [first].”

As part of ASEAN’s “One Destiny, One Community” agenda, a single Human Rights Declaration, based on international norms and drawing on the unique experience of the 10 ASEAN countries is a top priority for Cambodia, officials said at the press conference.

“We are committed and determined to finalising the AHRD in 2012 and already have the basic draft and final report of the drafting group to deliberate,” president Chet Chealy said.

Om Yentieng, who also serves as chief of the Kingdom’s Anti-Corruption Unit, said the two-day meeting in Siem Reap was attended by more than 30 representatives representing every ASEAN member state.

“We have finalised a progress report to submit to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting [held today in Siem Reap],” Om Yentieng said, adding that the next AICHR meeting will be on February 17-19 in Jakarta.

Over the weekend, Amnesty International and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights called on the AICHR to ensure deliberations on the declaration are transparent, public and include discussions with all relevant stakeholders.

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