Independent court for rights cases in Asean region sought
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - April 30, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Civil society organizations from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are pushing for an independent court in the region that would handle human rights violations in member states.

Lee Shook Fong of the Center for Independent Journalism likened the proposed international court to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights founded in 1979 and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights established in 2004.

“It is an independent judicial body which can adjudicate cases within the region on human rights violations,” Lee told a press conference at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.

Jelen Paclarin, co-convenor of the Philippines-National Organizing Committee for the 2017 ASEAN Civil Society Conference-ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF), said Southeast Asia is one of the regions in the world that has no regional human rights mechanism.

“We have existing mechanisms and we have committee on migrant workers but these are not effective, they don’t accept complaints from the region, from each country, they don’t monitor they don’t investigate,” Paclarin, who also serves as executive director of the women’s legal and human rights bureau and coordinator of PhilWomen on ASEAN, said.

Paclarin also noted that people who composed these bodies are not independent because they are appointed by government agencies. 

“We want experts, people who have been working with human rights who should handle the independent human rights mechanism,” she said.

Some 50 civil society groups met with ASEAN foreign ministers, led by acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, to discuss various issues.

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