ASIA: The ALRC underlines flaws in Asia’s institutions of the rule of law during UN debate

Date: September 15, 2009
Document id: ALRC-COS-12-07-2009
Speaker: Michael Anthony
HRC section: Item 2: General Debate

An Oral Statement to the 12th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status

ASIA: The ALRC underlines flaws in Asia’s institutions of the rule of law during UN debate

Thank you Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner,

In most Asian nations, many barriers to the protection and enjoyment of human rights stem not simply from a lack of means, but from the efforts by States to ensure the inability of national institutions of the rule of law to deliver justice and guarantee the primacy of rights.

The OHCHR has previously had as a priority the weakness of national institutions and the ALRC urges the High Commissioner to continue working on institutional weakness with specific reference to the police, prosecution and judiciary, when integrating new priorities.

The cited case decided against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and co-accused this August brought to the world�s attention the institutionalisation of fundamental human rights abuse through what the ALRC has characterized as Myanmar�s �injustice system.?Although global outrage was expressed at the politically contrived manner in which the proceedings reached their inevitable conclusion, the trial was in many respects typical of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others in recent years, concerning which the ALRC has submitted a written statement to this session of the Council.

The case of journalist J.S. Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka had no real grounds on which to base a criminal charge. In both cases the charges were fabricated and based on special regulations, not on the normal laws of the country. The Sri Lankan court sentenced Tissinaiyagam to 20 years imprisonment on August 31st, 2009, following a show trial. The High Commissioner has correctly stated that this conviction raises serious concerns about the respect for the right to freedom of expression. Additionally, the ALRC insists that the effect of this case is graver still, as it represents a dangerous precedent and milestone in the degradation of the independence of the judiciary and State institutions mandated to protect human rights in the country.

Finally, concerning the issue of discrimination, the ALRC supports the High Commissioner�s desire to address this wide-ranging problem. We do, however, regret to see that there are no references to the grave and persisting problem of discrimination based on work and descent, as witnessed in South Asia, notably India, which affects many millions. We hope that this is an issue that will be given priority in the new strategic management plan for 2010-2011.

Thank you.

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About ALRC

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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