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Open Letter to the Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

February 2011,

To: the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights

We call on AICHR to substantively engage and work together with the regional human rights community towards the meaningful and effective fulfillment of its mandate. Such measures are essential to the spirit and content of the ASEAN Charter to promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building

These measures should include regular transparent, participative and informative dialogues with the regional human rights community, including civil society organizations committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. This can start from the first meeting of the AICHR in 2011, on 9-13 February in Solo, Indonesia.

 Such measures are in keeping with the Terms of Reference to establish the AICHR, which is meant to contribute to the participation of ASEAN peoples in the ASEAN Community-building process, as well as to consult with key stakeholders in the region.

We are concerned that in its 15 months of operations, the AICHR appears to be pre-occupied with procedural matters, at the expense of addressing serious and ongoing human rights challenges in the region. Of particular concern is the AICHR’s inability to officially receive information on severe human rights situations forwarded by civil society organizations.

We call on AICHR to turn a new page in its relations with the regional and national human rights community by keeping the public informed of it work and activities. It is urgent that AICHR is able to address human rights issues in an open and effective way.

It is in the interest of the AICHR to work in partnership with the regional and national human rights community, as a valuable resource of experience, information, skills, energy, human resources and commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Yours in solidarity with the peoples of ASEAN,

1.      Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacy (SAPA) Task Force on ASEAN & Human Rights, Bangkok – Thailand.

Note: For endorsement and further inquiry, please contact Atnike (Atnike@forum-asia.org)

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