Call for increased cooperation against torture in South East Asia
Over the last few years, we have witnessed promising developments and an increasing interest in torture prevention within South East Asia. In an effort to further promote dialogue and cooperation among ASEAN Member States, Indonesia recently invited stakeholders from the region to a workshop in Bali, on “Preserving human dignity by preventing torture and ill-treatment”.
The workshop, held on 11-12 August, sought to identify opportunities to prevent torture and ill-treatment in the region. It brought together more than 50 participants from all 10 ASEAN countries: the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), representatives from governments, National Human Rights Institutions and non-governmental organisations. Lawrence Mutu from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa and Jeehan Mahmood from the Maldives were among the international experts who shared their experiences of torture prevention. Participants also got to discuss and give recommendations on how national, regional and international actors can work together to combat torture in the region.
Participants asked that regional bodies such as the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and other relevant ASEAN bodies are more proactive and take the lead in concrete regional initiatives to stop torture and ill-treatment.
Another positive signal was send by ASEAN Foreign Ministers, who at their meeting in August recommended that the AICHR develops a long term perspective to realise its protection mandate and that it continues its cooperation with other stakeholders on promotion and protection of human rights.
It is hoped that the motivation demonstrated by participants during the workshop will strengthen future work in the region towards making it – with the words of the Thai AICHR representative – a torture-free zone.
The meeting was organised in collaboration with the APT and the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI).