News Releases 2012

Human Rights Day 2012 : The Statement by Ms. Matilda Bogner Regional Representative for South-East Asia Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)


YANGON(10 December 2012) – Excellencies, Dear partners, colleagues and friends, As the Regional Representative for South-East Asia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, I am very pleased to co-host this United Nations Human Rights Day event in Yangon and to read a statement from Ms. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner.

I would like to warmly thank the other speakers at today’s commemoration: the Minister in the President’s Cabinet, U Aung Min; the Chair of the Committee on the Rule of Law and Tranquility of the Lower House of Parliament [Piythu Hluttaw], Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the Chair of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, U Win Mra; the Vice-President 1 of the Myanmar Journalists’ Association, U Ko Ko, and last but not least the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Ashok Nigam. I am grateful to him and his staff for the joint organisation of this event together with my colleagues from OHCHR.

A Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education is a 28 minute long documentary which demonstrates the impact of human rights education.


The movie presents three stories - concerning school children in India, police officers in Australia and women victims of violence in Turkey - illustrating how human rights education and training have helped them to address human rights challenges in their lives and in their communities. The three stories of successful practices illustrate the power of human rights education in transforming people's lives and empowering individuals to make a difference in their communities.

The film has a universal message and, touches upon many issues it highlights: Various forms of discrimination (racial discrimination, caste discrimination, discrimination against women); Women's human rights and violence against women; Minority rights; Human rights and law enforcement; The rights of the child; The right to education and Human rights education and training.

The film is a collaborative effort between Human Rights Education Associates, Sokka Gakkai International and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The movie is available online on OHCHR's Youtube channel  and can be downloaded from the film's website in the six UN languages.

Myanmar: UN expert greets latest commitments on human rights and calls for swift implementation


GENEVA (20 November 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, welcomed today the latest commitments from the Government of Myanmar on human rights as significant steps forward in the ongoing reform process, and encouraged the authorities to focus now on their prompt implementation.

These pledges announced by the Government on 18 November include the resumption of prison visits for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the setting up of a mechanism to review prisoner lists, addressing the situation in Rakhine State, and an invitation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a country office. Read more...

Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at a press conference during her mission to Indonesia

Jakarta, 13 November 2012 “Good afternoon, and thank you for coming. It has been a great pleasure to visit Indonesia and I wish I could have stayed longer to see other parts of your beautiful country and get to know the people and the human rights issues that they face in more detail. I would like to thank the Government of Indonesia for inviting me to Jakarta and for its support and efforts in assisting with my programme.

Since arriving in Jakarta on Sunday, I have met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Law and Human Rights, the Coordinating Minister of Legal, Political and Security Affairs, and Secretary General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. I have also held talks with the nine judges of the Constitutional Court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I also met with Indonesian representatives of the regional human rights mechanisms established under the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), national human rights institutions, civil society, victims, the United Nations Country Team and members of the diplomatic community. Read more...

More efforts needed to address the root causes of trafficking in persons in the Philippines, warns UN expert


MANILA / GENEVA (13 November 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Joy Ngozi Ezeilo welcomed the strong commitment shown by the Philippines in its fight against trafficking in persons, but warned that a number of challenges must be addressed by the Government if it is to succeed in effectively combating trafficking and protecting the human rights of trafficked persons.

“The Government of the Philippines should strengthen implementation of measures to combat trafficking in persons while promoting safe migration for development,” Ms. Ezeilo said at the end of her official visit* to the Philippines, the first by an independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to promote the prevention of trafficking in persons in all its forms and to encourage measures to uphold and protect the human rights of victims.. Read more...

“None should be left behind” – UN expert welcomes latest release of prisoners of conscience in Myanmar


GENEVA (20 September 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, welcomed the latest presidential amnesty resulting in the release of a number of prisoners of conscience, and renewed his call for the immediate and systematic liberation of all prisoners of conscience without conditions.

 “I am encouraged by the continuing steps taken by the Government of Myanmar to release remaining prisoners of conscience. I believe that this issue should remain at the forefront of Myanmar's reforms until all those left in detention have been freed,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said.Read more...

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination examines report of Thailand


10 August 2012 The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined initial to third periodic report of Thailand on how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Introducing the report,Pithaya Jinawat, Director General of the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection at the Ministry of Justice of Thailand, said as a centuries-old multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society, the challenges in building a society based on respect and tolerance were not unfamiliar to Thailand. The Thai people lived together in peace and harmony in an open society where one could often see churches, temples and mosques located in close vicinity. Thanks to its strong economy, substantial investments had been made to benefit the entire population, including a universal health care system and education for all, with no discrimination between Thai and foreign nationals. Challenges remained with regard to the southern border provinces, overcoming language, cultural and geographical barriers, and improving the understanding of both Government officials and the public of the human rights of various groups in the country.  Read more...

Media plays vital role in empowering indigenous rights – UN experts


GENEVA (8 August 2012) – In light of this year’s theme “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, have stressed the vital role that media can play in the respect for, and the promotion and protection of, indigenous peoples’ rights.

The right of indigenous peoples to establish their own media in their own languages is a key right in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (article 16). The Expert Mechanism, in its 2012 study on indigenous peoples’ languages and cultures, highlights that media can be an essential tool for the revitalisation of indigenous languages, especially in the education of indigenous children. Read more...

Myanmar: Considerable achievements but serious human rights challenges remain – UN Expert


YANGON/GENEVA (4 August 2012) – Despite wide-ranging positive developments, Myanmar continues to grapple with serious human rights challenges which, as recent events in Rakhine state demonstrated, need to be addressed for democratic transition and national reconciliation to succeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar said on Saturday evening at the end of a six-day official visit to the country.

Tomás Ojea Quintana, who visited Myanmar from 30 July to 4 August, said he was encouraged to see increasing engagement of civil society, political parties and other stakeholders in the reform process, greater openness in discussing human rights issues, and efforts towards building a society based on the rule of law. National institutions with important roles in furthering democratic transition and ensuring respect for human rights, such as Parliament and the National Human Rights Commission, have continued to develop. But he highlighted a number of key human rights concerns, including the situation in Rakhine state and the related detention of UN staff members, the continued detention of prisoners of conscience, and the situation in Kachin state. Read more...

Myanmar: Pillay concerned about human rights situation in Rakhine state


GENEVA (27 July 2012) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday raised serious concerns about ongoing human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after the violence between the Buddhist and Muslim communities there, urging a prompt, independent investigation.

The latest instability in Rakhine state was triggered on 28 May, when an ethnic Rakhine woman was raped and murdered. This was followed by the killing of 10 Muslims by an unidentified mob on 3 June. According to official figures, over 70,000 people have been displaced in the ensuing violence. At least 78 have died, although unofficial estimates are higher. Read more...

Myanmar visit by UN Special Rapporteur


GENEVA (25 July 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, will undertake a visit to the country from 30 July to 4 August 2012, at the invitation of the Government.

“We are continuing to witness significant progress on reforms, which I hope will culminate in the creation of a peaceful and vibrant democracy that respects human rights and upholds the rule of law,” the Special Rapporteur said.. Read more...

Enforced Disappearances: UN experts study over 200 cases – 13 under their urgent action procedure


GENEVA (13 July 2012) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* examined 13 reported cases of enforced disappearance under its urgent action procedure, as well as information on more than 200 cases, including newly-submitted cases and previously accepted ones.

The five independent human rights experts studied cases, including urgent actions, concerning Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Georgia, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen.Read more...

UN experts urge Philippines to protect rights defenders from a growing wave of attacks and killings


GENEVA (9 July 2012) – Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders and extrajudicial executions called on the Government of the Philippines to adopt urgent measures to protect the life of rights defenders and to ensure they are able to carry out their important work. They also urged the authorities to carry out prompt, impartial and independent investigations into the growing number of threats and killings of rights defenders to hold perpetrators to account and to fight impunity.

Reports of killings and death threats against human rights defenders have increased significantly over the past few months, notably in Mindanao and in Eastern Visayas.”Read more...

UN expert on Myanmar welcomes new amnesty and calls for the release of all prisoners of conscience


GENEVA (5 July 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, welcomed the presidential decree to grant another amnesty and release a number of prisoners of conscience on Tuesday.

“I am encouraged by the momentum of reform and the gradual steps taken by the government towards national reconciliation,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said. “However, I renew my call for the immediate and systematic release of all prisoners of conscience without conditions.”Read more...

States must tackle racist attacks by extremist groups, from political to sporting arenas – UN anti-racism expert


GENEVA (3 July 2012) – The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mutuma Ruteere, on Tuesday called on States to pay close attention to early signs of racism that may eventually lead to conflicts and grave human rights violations.

Mr. Ruteere cited in particular the rise in extremist political parties, movements and groups, and the serious problem of racism in sport, such as in the context of the UEFA Football Championship.Read more...

UN expert group calls for urgent actions to advance women’s human rights during political transitions


GENEVA (2 July 2012) – The United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice stressed that political transitions “offer unprecedented opportunities for progress on women’s human rights, despite there being a risk of regression and new forms of discrimination.”

“Good practice is evidenced where States take advantage of the opportunities to advance women’s human rights and avoid any kind of regression,” said Kamala Chandrakirana, who currently heads the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, during the presentation of the expert body’s first annual report* to the UN Human Rights Council.Read more...

Business must respect human rights for truly sustainable development – UN expert body on Rio+20


GENEVA (28 June 2012) – A United Nations expert body* charged with the promotion of respect for human rights by business of all sizes, in all sectors, and in all countries, expressed concern that the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, failed to explicitly mention that business should respect human rights in the drive to a green economy and sustainable development.

“Businesses will play a major role in developing the green economy and human rights safeguards are necessary to ensure that policies and business plans intended to advance environmental or development goals do not negatively impact people, communities and their livelihoods,” said Puvan Selvanathan, who currently heads the five-strong UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises.Read more...

UN expert calls for justice for all victims of human trafficking … even the ‘imperfect’ ones


GENEVA (26 June 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, said that the human rights of trafficked persons are not yet the primary consideration when it comes to effective criminal justice responses to trafficking, and urged world governments to adopt clear and enforceable laws based on respect for the rights of trafficked persons.

In her annual report* to the UN Human Rights Council, Ms. Ezeilo offered a list of observations and recommendations to States, including the enactment and enforcement of clear and comprehensive legislation criminalizing trafficking and related acts, the proper identification of victims of trafficking, the provision of protection and support to victims of trafficking, and making traffickers pay for their victims’ restitution and compensation. Read more...

Timor-Leste: UN Expert calls for inclusive and sustainable development


GENEVA (21 June 2012) – “Ensuring inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth is the most crucial challenge facing Timor-Leste today”, United Nations Special Rapporteur Magdalena Sepúlveda said Thursday during the presentation of her report* on her visit to Timor-Leste, at the Human Rights Council.

While recognizing Timor-Leste’s progress in tackling the challenge of state-building and development only ten years after independence, the Special Rapporteur warned that “a harsh reality of entrenched poverty and rising inequality hides behind rapid macroeconomic growth indicators”. She called on the State to concentrate its efforts on social and economic policies that ensure the enjoyment of human rights of the whole population such as access to justice, education, health care, water and sanitation. Read more...

“Liberty is the rule, detention is the exception,” says the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants


GENEVA (22 June 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, reminded States that “liberty is the rule, detention is the exception” on the issue of the detention of migrants in an irregular situation, by providing an overview of the current international and regional human rights legal framework in his annual report* to the UN Human Rights Council.

“The issue of migration detention is of paramount concern, given the growing tendency of states to detain migrants in an irregular situation, and in light of the wide range of human rights issues that such detention potentially has on those persons,’’ Mr. Crépeau said. Read more...

Journalists should not be silenced, intimidated, imprisoned, tortured or killed for telling 'inconvenient' truths, urge UN experts


GENEVA (21 June 2012) – Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs joined forces today to urge world governments, the international community, and journalists and media organisations to act decisively on the protection of the right to life of journalists and media freedom. “Attacks against journalists are attacks against democracy,” they stressed.

In two reports* to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, pointed out that there is an unacceptably high number of attacks against journalists and others disseminating news, ranging from arbitrary arrests, torture and killings, to sexual violence against female journalists. Read more...

class="title">Minimum standards in a shrinking space for peaceful assembly and association


GENEVA (21 June 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai called on all governments and the international community to further promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, “violated or at risk in a number of countries.”

“It is astonishing how often States have encroached upon the right of individuals to assemble peacefully by also violating their rights to life and to be free from torture, rights which allow no limitation,” Mr. Kiai said during the presentation of his annual report* to the UN Human Rights Council, in which he makes a number of recommendations to establish minimum standards to protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Read more...

“Tensions between ethnic and religious minorities threaten Myanmar’s democratic transition” – UN expert


GENEVA (13 June 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, warned today that the escalating violence in the Rakhine state, that has been triggered by conflicts between Buddhist and Muslim communities, represents a serious threat to the country’s future.

“The underlying tensions that stem from discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities pose a threat to Myanmar’s democratic transition and stability. I urge all sides to exercise restraint, respect the law and refrain from violence.” Mr. Ojea Quintana said. “The Government should also address these concerns alongside its efforts to make progress on other human rights issues.” Read more...

Malaysia: UN rights experts call for the protection of NGOs working for free and fair elections


GENEVA (7 June 2012) – A group of United Nations human rights experts called on the Government of Malaysia and other parties involved to respect and protect the legitimate work of an umbrella group of NGOs campaigning for reform of the electoral process in the lead-up to the general election, scheduled to take place by April 2013.

The UN independent experts on human rights defenders, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression urged the authorities to protect effectively one of the directors of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), Ambiga Sreenevasan, and other Bersih members, against acts of harassment and intimidation by various groups of individuals. Read more...

Call for submissions of information on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief

In preparation for the Secretary-General's forthcoming report, The Civil Society Section of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights encourages you to provide input (see para.10, General Assembly resolution 66/167: http://goo.gl/vrh8D).

Guidance note on contributions

1. Responses should not exceed five pages (supporting documents can be attached) 

2. Bearing in mind the text of General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/167, responses may wish to reflect the following:

a. General information on the implementation of the resolution 

b. Information concerning steps taken by countries to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief as set forth in the resolution, including measures and policies to:

-ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief;

-foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society 

-encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion or belief, in all sectors of society;

-make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questioning, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures;

-promote the full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines, and to take measures in cases where they are vulnerable to vandalism or destruction; and,

-foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.

Send your contribution, five pages (max.), by 15 June 2012 to registry@ohchr.org.

Call for submissions of information on alleged intimidation and reprisals

Pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 12/2, the UN Secretary-General is invited to submit a report to the Council at its 21st session in September 2012, containing a compilation and analysis of any available information, from all appropriate sources, on alleged reprisal against those who:

(a) Seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, or who have provided testimony or information to them;

(b) Avail or have availed themselves of procedures established under the auspices of the United Nations for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and all those who have provided legal or other assistance to them for this purpose;

(c) Submit or have submitted communications under procedures established by human rights instruments, and all those who have provided legal or other assistance to them for this purpose;

(d) Are relatives of victims of human rights violations or of those who have provided legal or other assistance to victims;

as well as recommendations on how to address the issues of intimidation and reprisals.

The resolution mandating the report (see A/HRC/RES/12/2) has been broadened in comparison to previous resolutions on the same subject. In addition to cases of reprisals regarding cooperation with the Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteurs and Treaty Bodies, the report of can also include cases of reprisals due to cooperation with OHCHR, its field presences and human rights advisers, UNCTs and the human rights components of peacekeeping missions.

In this context, the OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia would like to invite you to submit information on alleged intimidation and reprisals against individuals or groups who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights as defined in the first paragraph from this region. Please note that the report of the Secretary General is expected to cover the period between June 2011 and June 2012.

Please kindly send your submissions to ohchr.bangkok@un.org by 4 June 2012.

Pillay urges ASEAN to set the bar high with its regional human rights declaration


GENEVA (11 May 2012) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday offered her encouragement to ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in drafting a regional human rights declaration, but called for a meaningful consultation on the draft with the widest spectrum of people in the region before it is presented to ASEAN’s foreign ministers in July.

As the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) concludes its latest drafting meeting in Bangkok, Pillay expressed her hope that the Declaration will play an important role in improving the enjoyment of human rights for people in South-East Asia. Read more...

UN chief to travel to Myanmar during ‘critical’ moment in country’s transition


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will later this week head to Myanmar, which he said is at a “critical” moment in its transition, preceded by an official visit to India. “Myanmar is only at the beginning of its transition. Many challenges lie ahead. Many concerns have yet to be addressed. Yet I am convinced that we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the country advance toward a better future,” Read more...

Myanmar moves forward following historic elections


Tomás Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar Myanmar is facing a number of challenges as it transitions to a freer and fairer society according to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country. Tomás Ojea Quintana says the democratic election was a positive step forward. He hopes the outcome, which includes a parliamentary seat won by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, will help the country with its reforms. The Special Rapporteur says human rights in Myanmar have to be respected and the fighting in parts of the country has to stop. Julie Walker spoke with Mr. Ojea Quintana about what lies ahead for Myanmar, as well as the situation in the country right now.

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Myanmar: “Sunday’s by-elections, key test of democratic reform process,” says UN expert


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said that Myanmar’s by-elections on 1 April will be a key test of progress made by the Government in its process of reform. In the coming polls, 48 parliamentary seats will be contested.

“This is a crucial moment in Myanmar’s history,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said, recalling his latest report* to the Human Rights Council. “I have consistently stressed that the next round of elections should be truly free, fair, inclusive and transparent, but the credibility of Sunday’s vote will not be determined solely on the day, but in the lead-up to and following election day.” Read more...

A right to choose for persons with disabilities


A man holding ballots written in Braille © EPA/J.DIGES“The right to political participation lies at the heart of democracy. It means taking part in decision making on public issues, it means true citizenship and equality. The history of this human right reveals a development from exclusion and denial to gradual recognition of universality and indivisibility,” said Theresia Degener of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “It is remarkable that it took history until the 21st century to finally extend this right to disabled persons.” Read more...

Pillay: Capitalizing on women’s potential in times of crisis


Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on International Women’s Day 2012.

This year, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, I call on governments, community leaders and heads of families around the world to recognise, acknowledge and tap into the enormous potential of women to positively impact the world around them. This is a call directed not at any particular region of the world – it is a global call because the failure to capitalise on women’s potential is a global problem. Read more...

Pillay presents groundbreaking UN study on violence, discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay © UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerreStatement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to the Panel on ending violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity at the Human Rights Council 19th Session Geneva, 7 March 2012. Read more...

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Women in crisis


“International Women’s Day 2012 takes place in the context of widespread political and economic crisis,” said today UN independent expert Kamala Chandrakirana, who currently heads a new group* charged with identifying ways to eliminate existing discrimination in law and practice, and helping States to ensure greater empowerment and autonomy for women in all fields.

“In political transition, there is a danger of regression in the enjoyment by women of their human rights and women participating in public life are often exposed to violence,” she warned. “States must take the opportunity of political transition to improve women’s constitutional and political position, adopting positive measures to eliminate discrimination and promote the empowerment of women. Read more...

Joint Statement on the Compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres


United Nations entities call on States to close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres and implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in the community.

The continued existence of compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres, where people who are suspected of using drugs or being dependent on drugs, people who have engaged in sex work, or children who have been victims of sexual exploitation are detained without due process in the name of “treatment” or “rehabilitation”, is a serious concern. Read more...

Inviting Written Submissions – The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post Conflict


CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict is scheduled to be held on 27-28 March 2012, In Bangkok (Thailand).

This is a call for national and regional level women’s rights groups, NGOs and networks in the Asia Pacific actively engaged in protecting women’s rights during conflict and in peace-building and reconstruction processes during the post-conflict & transition settings to submit Written Submissions to the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group organising the CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict on 27-28 March 2012 in Bangkok. Read more...

South-East Asia Dialogue on Access to Elections for Persons with Disabilities


From 1 to 2 February, the Regional Office participated in the “Regional Dialogue on Access to Elections for Persons with Disabilities” organised in Jakarta, Indonesia. The dialogue was the first major activity of a two-year AGENDA programme funded by USAID, which is seeking to develop the regional network of disability groups in South-East Asia through the sharing of best practices and research.

The programme is advocating for increased attention to be paid to disability issues within ASEAN, particularly within the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), as well as for ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Read more..

Myanmar: UN Special Rapporteur hails reforms, but warns of “risk of backtracking”


UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana © UN Photo/Evan SchneiderThe United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said the recent wave of reforms has already had a positive impact on the country and its people, but warned that serious challenges remain and must be addressed to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar and deepen its transition to democracy.

“There is a risk of backtracking on the progress achieved thus far,” the UN rights expert stressed at the end of his fifth mission* to Myanmar. “At this crucial moment in the country’s history, further and sustained action should be taken to bring about further change.” Read more...

Read also: “An important time in Myanmar’s history” – UN human rights expert visits

Committee on the Rights of the Child considers report of Thailand


The Committee on the Rights of the Child has reviewed the combined third and fourth periodic report of Thailand on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Santi Promphat, Minister of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand, told the Committee that new laws had been passed on areas such as nationality, domestic violence, anti-trafficking of persons, juvenile justice, and the promotion of child and youth development. Thailand was currently implementing universal healthcare coverage, and had successfully decreased child malnutrition and the maternal and under fives mortality rates. Thailand had achieved Millennium Development Goal Two on universal primary education and Goal Three on eliminating gender disparity among boys and girls. The age of criminal responsibility had been increased from seven to ten years of age, while measures to combat commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, including training of law-enforcement officials, were in place. Thailand was well aware of its remaining challenges which included child labour, teenage pregnancy and vulnerable children in the southern border provinces, as well as supporting the child victims of the massive 2011 floods. Read more...

Workshop for Thai NGOs on effective alternative reporting to the UN Committee against Torture


Workshop for Thai NGOs on effective alternative reporting to the UN Committee against TortureThe Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South-East Asia in collaboration with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and with the support from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office conducted a two-day workshop for Thai NGOs on effective alternative reporting to the UN Committee against Torture in Bangkok on 21 – 22 January 2012.

The workshop was attended by approximately 20 representatives from various NGOs in Thailand. The main objective of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of Thai civil society to engage effectively in the reporting process to the Committee against Torture, in particular through alternative reporting and follow-up. Read more...

Committee on the Rights of the Child examines report of Myanmar


The Committee on the Rights of the Child today considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Myanmar on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Presenting the report, U Maung Wai, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Myanmar had entered a new era. Just two days ago the Government of Myanmar had ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New Government bodies on social affairs, education, health promotion and a National Human Rights Commission had been formed, and the National Committee on the Rights of the Child was reconstituted in May 2011. Reforms had been carried out in healthcare, with maternal, newborn and child health at the centre, and free and compulsory primary education had been introduced. The Government placed high priority on the prevention of child labour, particularly child recruitment into the military, and was taking punitive action against perpetrators from the armed forces. Much, however, remained to be done, particularly in awareness-raising, child protection and birth registration. Myanmar might be a developing country but it would not shy away from its obligations under the Convention. Read more...

Myanmar: UN expert welcomes prisoner release, calls for further progress on human rights protections


The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, on Monday welcomed the decision by President Thein Sein to grant another amnesty and release a significant number of prisoners of conscience.

While the exact number of prisoners of conscience released has yet to be confirmed, among those released last Friday were prominent figures whose cases have been previously addressed by the Special Rapporteur as well as individuals he had visited in jail. Read more...