[JURIST] The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website], a coalition of 164 human rights groups, released a statement [press release] on Monday criticizing the current draft of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website; JURIST news archive] Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) [text, PDF]. FIDH criticized the AHRD for stating that human rights freedoms must be considered based on different regional contexts and “bearing in mind different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds.” FIDH further criticized the AHRD for limiting the grant of human rights freedoms based on “national security” and “public morality.” FIDH argued that to limit the grant of human rights protections in this way goes against the entire point of these types of protections and that ASEAN has a duty under international law to guarantee broad grants of human rights freedoms. Other commentators have criticized the AHRD for lacking an effective enforcement mechanism [CFR report], not being clear in the drafting process, limiting the participation of outside groups in the drafting process and failing to mention groups that need protection. FIDH called on ASEAN to redraft the AHRD in a “transparent, deliberate and inclusive process” and comply with conventional international human rights protections.
Although ASEAN agreed to extend human right protections [JURIST report] in April, several southeast Asian nations have been subject to close scrutiny on human rights recently. In August a report released by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website] found that Myanmar’s army is still committing human rights abuses [JURIST report] against ethnic minorities in Karen state. Earlier that month a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] alleged [JURIST report] that Myanmar security forces committed killings, rape and mass arrests following an outbreak of sectarian violence in western Rakhine State. In July two UN Special Rapporteurs urged [JURIST report] the government of Philippines to protect human rights defenders and ensure that they can pursue their work without interference. In April HRW urged the Philippines military to act on human rights abuses [JURIST report] and hold violators accountable. Also in April UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged the government of Cambodia [JURIST report] to give its full cooperation to the judges that will be appointed to investigate the genocide during Khmer Rouge regime [BBC backgrounder].