We express our deep regret and continuing concern that the formulation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration targeted to be adopted this year has been conducted in a non-transparent and covert manner.
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, groups and individuals, reiterate the call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay1 for meaningful consultation with Civil Society stakeholders on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). As the high commissioner stated in her statement after her meeting with ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) members,
"This will help to ensure that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will have the distinction of embedding international human rights standards in the local context and representing the interests and aspirations of the people in the region."
While AICHR has expressed rather belatedly that it will conduct consultations on the AHRD in Kuala Lumpur on June 22, it is distressing to note that there will only be one regional consultation with civil society organisations and even more disturbingly, the session will likely be limited to only "various selected and accredited civil societies"2.
In light of the development, we express our deep regret and continuing concern that the formulation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration targeted to be adopted this year has been conducted in a non-transparent and covert manner. Even more so, the track record for Singapore in consulting with civil society regarding the AHRD's drafting has been one-sided, lackadaisical and practically non-existent.
The Government should no longer keep missing the mark on political engagement and it should rethink its approach3 and engage civil society through genuine and respectful dialogue especially on a matter of grave importance such as safeguarding and protecting the human rights of all the people and citizenry of Singapore.
We therefore sincerely call upon Singapore's AICHR representative, Mr Richard Magnus to set up an interface meeting with local NGOs, before June 22, and ensure that it is conducted in the broadest and most inclusive manner.
This statement is endorsed by:
2.Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)
3.We Believe in Second Chances
4.People Like Us (PLU)
8.Slutwalk Singapore 9.Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Federation of Singapore (DHHFS)
11.The Asian Observer Group
12.Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)
13.Singapore Working Group on Migrant Workers (SWGMW)
14.Singapore Working Group for ASEAN (SWGA)
15.Singapore Working Group on Death Penalty (SWGDP)
16.Shawn Danker (Individual)
17.James Gomez (Individual)
18.Wong U-Wen (individual)
1."Pillay urges ASEAN to set the bar high with its regional human rights declaration", OHCHR, 11 May, 2012
2. "AICHR rep to meet Suhakam on Asean human rights draft", The Star Online, 24 April, 2012
3. "PAP must rethink its approach – analysts", Yahoo News, 27 May, 2012
For further information please contact:
Mr Tan Kong Soon, President, Think Centre
Mobile: +65 9107 7905