An Oral Statement to the 42nd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
ASIA: Human Rights Mechanisms need practical actions on domestic institutional developments for administration of justice
The effectiveness of the United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms for protection of rights depends very much on the compliance of the State parties to implement Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This postulates the legislative, judicial, and administrative measures to ensure the rights that the State parties have signed to. While the ratification of the UN treaties has become a way of acquiring international respectability the Sate parties in many countries deny the same rights to the people by means of serious undermining of the domestic mechanisms of administration of justice. Extremely defective policing systems, coercive crime investigation systems, the prosecutorial systems, the judicial systems themselves are often a product of the State’s failure to allocate necessary resources, particularly financial resources needed to ensure the well-functioning of these institutions.
In most countries in Asia liberal democracy is replaced with various types of authoritarian governments violating the separation of power principle and favouring executive control of the entire system. For this purpose the system of administration of justice itself is undermined. A former chief justice of Bangladesh, Surendra Kumar Sinha has written a book titled “A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy” detailing how the Executive undermine the country’s Supreme Court. In Sri Lanka, the constitution itself places the Executive President above the law and above any prosecution even for any crimes he may commit. The direct authorisation of extrajudicial killings of persons are alleged in drug related crimes by the Executive as it happens in the Philippines has also claimed the lives of over 40 lawyers, a few judges, and many human rights defenders. These are just few examples. An effective remedy cannot be guaranteed without functioning system of administration of justice.
If the UN mechanisms for protection of human rights are to assist the victims of gross abuses of human rights, it should work towards effective remedy for violation of rights by way of compliance of the Article 2 of the ICCPR. The same obligation is imposed by the Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goal 2030, which requires access to justice, the functioning public institutions, and the rule of law as essential ingredients of sustainable development. And, of course, the mechanisms need more financial and human resources for which the States need to extend their supports.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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