Asean to launch human rights body in October

Asean to launch human rights body in October

The Star, Malaysia,
By Mergawati Zulfakar and Yeng Ai Chun

PHUKET: Asean has proposed to name its human rights body as the Asean Inter Governmental Commission of Human Rights paving the way for Asean leaders to launch the body when they meet in October.

However, the ministers will have further discussion on the draft of the Terms of Reference (TOR) at their retreat Monday before reaching a final decision on it.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said the TOR would be reviewed again in the next five years after the body came into effect as this would open the door for further enhancement of the body’s role.

TOR will be amended to strengthen the mandate and function on the promotion and protection of human rights.

“At the same time, we have agreed that we will hasten to appoint from each of the Asean countries a representative to the body who will serve for a three-year period, he said at a press conference Sunday.

He explained that the 10 Asean representatives would be impartial and need not hold Government positions.

“We will have a selection committee and a public announcement to select the representatives. It would be opened to all, the private sector or the civil society,” he said.

He stated that the purpose of the body was to promote and protect human rights in Asean.

Its task would also include enhancing public awareness on human rights, engaging other Asean bodies including civil society associated with Asean, obtaining information from member states on promotion and protection of human rights, consulting with relevant national, regional and institutions and entities.

“The draft TOR reflects a maximum consensus among us. It is important to make the human rights body credible but at the same time, take into account the real situation in Asean member countries.

“It is a beginning of an evolving process. It is a living document that will provide an evolutionary framework a platform for furthering Asean’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights,” he said.

Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman told Malaysian media that the ministers deliberated on length on the wordings on the five-year review to further strengthen the body.

He said at the end of the day, it would be the purview of the Foreign Ministers to do the review every five years or less.