Statement on the International Launch of article 2 Statement on the International Launch of article 2″
Asian Legal Resource Centre
The international launch of article 2 was successfully held on the 3 April 2002 at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, on the occasion of the 58th Session of the Commission on Human Rights. The event was attended by a number of members of the NGO community, state delegations and the press. The event proceeded with the format of speeches by a panel of speakers and a discussion. The speakers at the launching were: Dr. Bertrand Ramcharan, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Param Cumaraswamy, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Eric Sottas, Director of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and Mr. Basil Fernando, Executive Director of the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The event was chaired by Mr. Sanjeewa Liyanage, Executive Officer of the ALRC and AHRC. All the speakers congratulated the ALRC for taking the initiative to launch this publication which is on the important theme of implementation of rights.
Dr. Ramcharan pointed out that in the drafting of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the implementation of rights played a very important part and that the availability of remedies before courts are important to make rights meaningful. He further said that judicial intervention is central in the promotion of human rights and judges bear responsibility to assist the wholesome growth of the society and to contribute to its stability and respect for rights.
Mr. Param Cumaraswamy said that during the last 50 years the international community has concentrated on formulations of human rights norms and standards and the next 50 years must be focussed on the implementation of these norms and standards in each country. He went on to say that, it is not only the judiciary that bear responsibility for the implementation of rights but the legislature and the executive as well and sometimes the judiciary is prevented from exercising their function by the executive or the legislature. He also said that addressing of these problems is very necessary if human rights are to be advanced.
Mr. Eric Sottas pointed out that it is a feature of global development today to weaken the state. When the state is weakened its law enforcement capacity is also weakened. As a result the rule of law is endangered. This global phenomenon needs to be seriously addressed. This is particularly so regarding the less developed countries. This degeneration of the rule of law affects the fabric of protection of human rights. Thus the strenthening of the protection mechanisms requires the addressing of the fundamental problems affecting the implementation of human rights and the rule of law.
Mr. Basil Fernando said that article 2 has been launched to highlight one of the central problems facing human rights protection, which is the failure to implement rights. The issue is about the entire administration of justice, including police, prosecution and the judiciary. The police and the prosecution can act in a way to prevent investigations of human rights violations and thus creating the excuse of absence of evidence to justify failure to prosecute. This is becoming a common feature in many countries in Asia. Thus the ratifications of international human rights conventions and even constitutional recognition of rights may not lead to improvement of rights when the justice system is flawed or sabotaged.
There was a lively discussion during the event following these speeches.