UN expert urges Pacific Rim countries not to sign TPP without human rights

TPP protester.GENEVA (2 February 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas called on Governments not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without reaffirming their human rights treaty obligations and their recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order in a statement* made public today. Read more...

File Photo: Activists take part in a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Lima, Peru, 22 January 2015. (EPA).

OHCHR calls on Thai authorities to drop all charges against student activists

thaiflag.BANGKOK (22 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) urges the Thai military to drop all charges against 11 student activists arrested for violating a ban on political gatherings.

Sirawit Seritiwat, a student activist with the New Democracy Movement, said he was apprehended by uniformed men near Thammasat University campus in the capital Bangkok late on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, Chonticha Jaeng-rew, Chanoknan Ruamsap and Korakoch Saengyenpan visited Sirawit at the police station where he was being held, and were themselves charged with the same offence. Read more...

OHCHR says encouraged by Cambodia decision to register Montagnards for refugee status

OHCHRlogo.BANGKOK (21 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said on Thursday it was encouraged by the Cambodian Government's pledge to assess the refugee claims of more than 170 Montagnards from Vietnam.

OHCHR calls upon the Royal Government to process all the asylum claims in a fair and efficient way, and in compliance with international standards. Read more...

UN human rights chief Zeid identifies "extremist" challenges

Zeidinterview.NEW YORK (18 January 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke with the UN News Centre about the challenges ahead in human rights and the challenges of serving as High Commissioner after a career in multilateral diplomacy.

Some highlights:

"The moment we do not support the human rights agenda we see it rolling back in many parts of the world."

"In the diplomatic world, you’re negotiating, there is some etiquette involved – in the world of human rights, and particularly from the side of the High Commissioner, it’s a lot of straight-talking and it creates tension which in the past I never used to experience."

""The rise of violent extremism and extremist thinking has greatly affected the way in which governments approach human rights, and, in particular, we’ve seen governments put pressure on civil society as a way to fend off extremist thinking."

Read the full interview...

Technical Note: Universal Suffrage in South-East Asia

OHCHRlogo.GENEVA (8 December 2015) – The UN Human Rights Office has written a technical note aimed at informing debates in South East Asia on the question of universal suffrage, setting out relevant international human rights norms and standards.

Universal suffrage is a requisite of genuine elections, and is required by international human rights law as essential to ensure that elections reflect the will of the people. Universal suffrage requirements concern both the right to vote and the right to stand for election. While these rights can be limited, restrictions should be based on objective and reasonable criteria.

As regards the right to stand for election, the jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee provides several examples of restrictions that have been considered unreasonable or discriminatory. The existence of unreasonable or discriminatory restrictions on the right to stand for election violates the requirement to universal suffrage.Read more...

Zeid urges Thailand to fully investigate enforced disappearances

Somchai.GENEVA (6 January 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday urged the Thai Government to take decisive and sustained efforts to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared, including respected lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who went missing nearly 12 years ago.

Zeid also called on the Thai Government to criminalize enforced disappearance in its legislation, in line with international standards.Read more...

File Photo: A Thai activist holds a placard next to a photograph of a missing lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit during in a rally in 2004. (EPA).

OHCHR says concerned about arrest of Viet Nam human rights defender

NguyenVanDai.BANGKOK (17 December 2015) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is seriously concerned by the arrest of well-known Vietnamese human rights defender Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, and calls for his immediate release.

Dai, a prominent lawyer and founder of the Committee for Human Rights in Viet Nam, was arrested at his home on 16 December and charged with anti-state “propaganda” (under article 88 of the Penal Code), an offence that carries a jail term of between 3 to 12 years.Read more...

Photo: Nguyen Van Dai (2007, EPA).

OHCHR calls for Laos Govt to provide answers in Sombath case

Sombath.BANGKOK (14 December 2015) - On the third anniversary of the disappearance of human rights defender Sombath Somphone, representative of OHCHR's Regional Office for South-East called on the Laos Government provide answers in the case.

The following statement was delivered by the Deputy head of the Regional Office, Laurent Meillan, at a news conference arranged by the Sombath Initiative in Bangkok. Read more...

OHCHR alarmed by attacks on Vietnam human rights defenders

Vietnamflag.GENEVA (8 December 2015) – The UN Human Rights Office said on Friday it was alarmed at the recent spate of violent attacks on human rights defenders in Viet Nam and are concerned by the apparent failure of the authorities to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. Read more

Our ‘Gandhis’, ‘Mandelas’, ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malalas’ deserve support and protection

HumanRightsDefenders.GENEVA (8 December 2015) – Ahead of the International Human Rights Defenders Day on Wednesday 9 December, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst called for better support and protection of defenders by States, funders and the general public. Read more

OHCHR calls for Thailand to stop civilian detentions in military barracks

Thaimap.BANGKOK (24 November 2015) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) calls for the immediate closure of a Bangkok military detention facility where two inmates died over the past month, and urges the Thai Government to include independent experts to join an investigation into the cases. Read more

Thai version

Political crackdown in Cambodia reaching dangerous tipping point - UN rights expert

RhonaSmith.GENEVA (23 November 2015) –The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, today expressed her deep concern about the breakdown in the political dialogue between Cambodia’s main political parties given its implications for human rights of the Cambodian people. Read more

OHCHR deeply concerned about deportation of 2 Chinese activists by Thai authorities

OHCHRlogo.GENEVA (20 November 2015) – The UN Human Rights Office is deeply concerned about the deportation of two Chinese activists – both of whom are recognised refugees – by the Thai authorities, and the risks associated with their being sent back to China, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday. Read more

OHCHR alarmed at reports 9 North Korean nationals arrested in Viet Nam

GENEVA (20 November 2015) – The UN Human Rights Office is alarmed at reports that nine North Korean nationals, including a one-year-old infant and a teenager, were arrested in Viet Nam last month and subsequently transferred to China, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday. Read more

Committee against Torture considers report of China

Chinaflag.GENEVA (18 November 2015) – The Committee against Torture concluded this afternoon its consideration of the fifth periodic report of China, including Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions, on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Read more

Secretary-General concerned by increasing political tensions in Cambodia

SamRainsy.NEW YORK (17 November 2015) - The Secretary-General is following with concern the increasing tensions between the ruling party and the opposition in Cambodia. Read more

“No turning back in Myanmar,” says UN human rights expert

MyanmarElection.GENEVA (16 November 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee today welcomed the recent elections in Myanmar as “a new chapter in the country’s history” and reaffirmed her commitment to work with all parties to improve the human rights situation for all in Myanmar. “The people have expressed the will for change. There is no turning back now,” Ms. Lee stressed. Read more

Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Timor-Leste

TimorLeste.GENEVA (11 November 2015) - The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined second and third periodic report of Timor-Leste on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Read more

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