ASIA: Council should lead reforms of judicial institutions to realise rights

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and Franciscans International wish to bring to the immediate attention of this council that the judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in Asia face acute forms of suppression of their freedom to engage in their profession independently. Perhaps Hong Kong, South Korea, India, and Japan are exception to this general category.

Date: June 24, 2015
Speaker: Budi Tjahjono
Document ID: ALRC-COS-29-21-2015
HRC Section: General Debate – Agenda Item: 4


A Joint Oral Statement to the 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and Franciscans International

ASIA: Council should lead reforms of judicial institutions to realise rights

Thank you Mr. President.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and Franciscans International wish to bring to the immediate attention of this council that the judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in Asia face acute forms of suppression of their freedom to engage in their profession independently. Perhaps Hong Kong, South Korea, India, and Japan are exception to this general category.

Unfortunately such freedom to jurists does not exist in the rest of Asia.

For instance, Thailand’s judiciary has been passively supporting the military installed administration, and the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council constituted by the military, and headed by a military general has for all practical purposes superseded the authority of the civilian courts in that country.

At parallel with Thailand is the situation in Bangladesh where the judiciary is almost entirely under the control of the incumbent government. For instance, the incumbent government is targeting activists of the opposition. It uses the police and paramilitary forces like the Rapid Action Battalion and the Border Guards to crack down on dissenters, who fall victim to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. The law-enforcement agencies also shoot point blank at the limbs of detainees in custody, resulting in permanent disability for numerous victims. In such dreadful situations, the Judiciary is siding with the government to deny victims remedy.

Lawyers in Pakistan face intimidation and often death from powerful politicians, police, and military officers is they were to appear in cases of human rights abuses, like rape, forced conversion into Islam, land grabbing or cases of police or military torture and disappearances of civilians caused by state agencies.

In India, though the judges and lawyers are relatively free from state interferences, the justice process in India is infamous for its often decade long delays due to lack of adequate infrastructure for the courts to function. Denial of adequate resources by the state for its judiciary to function is a direct form of interference of the state in the judiciary’s functioning.

The ALRC and Franciscans International therefore request this council to constructively engage on the issue of independence of judges and lawyers, so that it could engage with the Asian states, to encourage them to place primacy upon justice institution reforms. Asian states must be encouraged to create an enabling domestic environment for protection, promotion, and fulfilment of human rights in the region.

Thank you Mr. President.

Webcast link: http://webtv.un.org/search/item4-general-debate-contd-25th-meeting-29th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/4318506705001?term=Asian%20Legal%20Resource%20Centre

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The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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