ASIA: Criminal Justice Process needs fundamental reforms to address gross human rights abuses

An Oral Statement to the 33rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)

Mr. Vice President.

The ALRC wishes to bring to the attention of this Council that with the exceptions of Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan, arbitrary arrest is the norm and by state design in Asia, and the judiciary in these countries are ineffective to prevent it. Crime investigation in Asia begins and ends with statements of the person in custody and not on the basis of evidence of guilt. To facilitate this process, the practice of arbitrary arrest is widely exercised in the region. This is because Asian governments have failed to modernise policing institutions.

Asian governments also resort to the practice to silence all forms of opposition. In countries like Thailand, China, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh arbitrary arrest is widely used against civilians, including human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and victims of human rights abuse who dare to speak-up against incumbent governments. In Papua, Indonesia, arbitrary arrest is used to silence peaceful protest organized by indigenous Papuans. Though many of them have been released, the security forces act has caused considerable public fear and trauma.

Enforced disappearances have been taking place in many Asian states without any accessible remedy. The judiciary in these countries condone the practice, and often approves it by refusing to intervene. There are no practical legal remedies against arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearances in these countries.

The ALRC therefore wishes to ask the Council, what action have the Council and the Working Groups taken other than urging Asian states to stop the practice? Will the Working Groups be able to undertake a study, analysing the structural issues of the criminal justice process, covering also South Asian states, and be able to present to this Council, a report urging the Council to engage with the Asian states to address institutional failures that promotes arbitrary arrest?

I thank you, Mr. Vice President.

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About Admin

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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