Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs feel ignored by ASEAN rights council

NGOs feel ignored by ASEAN rights council

NGOs feel ignored by ASEAN rights council

Despite renewed criticism from civil society and a call for its drafting to be postponed, finalisation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) was well under way, officials said yesterday at the beginning of a week of ASEAN meetings.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting between ASEAN foreign ministers and the Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the assembled diplomats had called for work on the declaration to advance.

“[We have] asked [AICHR] to engage with the stakeholders, including civil society, in preparing their ASEAN human rights declaration,” said Natalegawa, whose home country was chair of ASEAN last year.

His comments follow an open letter released on Friday by 63 civil-society organisations, asking for a postponement of the AHRD, which is due to be adopted in November.

The groups called for increased drafting transparency and civil-society consultation as well as the technical and expert assistance of UN agencies.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development executive director Yap Swee Seng told the Post the groups were worried the declaration will be undermined by the national, regional, cultural and historical context of the 10 nations.

“Of course, the track record of human rights in the region for many countries has been quite bad, and that is why it is important the human-rights declaration would set the standard for the government to follow,” Swee Seng said by telephone.

Continuing human-rights abuses by member states were also being left on the sidelines, Swee Seng said, pointing to sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination and enforced disappearances as examples of controversial abuses.

However, Kao Kim Hourn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ruled out any likelihood of a postponement.

“The first draft [of the declaration] is already a very good text. We still have time . . . That’s why ASEAN foreign ministers requested AICHR to continue to improve [the draft]. We expect to have a very good text to be ready for the [summit in November],” Kao Kim Hourn said at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

“The Asean foreign ministers also decided to release key elements of the draft.

“AICHR will have to come up with key elements, and those key elements will be released to the public,” he added, without saying when such elements would be released.

To contact the reporters on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]
Cheang Sokha at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all