ASIA: Hiding Behind its Limits: A performance report on the first year of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

[28 October 2010] - Most people remain at a loss about what the Asean Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights has been doing in its first year, a report says.

The Solidarity for Asian People's Advocacy Task Force on Asean and Human Rights said yesterday the regional human rights body was mere window dressing for Asean's commitment to human rights.

The AICHR shares little information with the public on what it is doing, the group said in a report, Hiding Behind Its Limits, launched in Bangkok yesterday.

Forum-Asia's manager of Asean advocacy, Atnike Nova Sigiro, said the body carried out little meaningful consultation with civil society and other stakeholders.

She gave the body a score of five on a scale of one to 10.

"The AICHR is an infant that needs more nutrition and support from others including civil society," Ms Sigiro said.

Ryan Silverio, of the Southeast Asia Child Rights Coalition, said he gave the AICHR a full 10 out of 10 despite its many shortcomings such as bureaucratic red tape.

"At least they give civil society space to engage in the causes of women and children," Mr Silverio said.

Cheery Zahau, a programme coordinator for the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, said the United Nations was inquiring into Burma's human rights record. She said she had yet to hear if the AICHR backed the inquiry.

Nor is the group actively pushing for transparency in Burma's coming election, she said.

"It's disappointing to see the only regional human rights body falling silent about what's going on in Burma," said Ms Cheery, a Chin ethnic activist.

"They have yet to take a critical look at the 2008 constitution which grants immunity for past crimes to any military officers who are elected."

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said the honeymoon between the AICHR and Asean non-governmental organisations was over.

He said advocates were tired of hearing how "historic" the regional body was. They wanted to see some results.

[Source of news story: Bangkok Post]

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