AICHR’s First Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices Regarding International Human Rights Law

Kuala Lumpur, 13-15 March 2017 – The Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC) joined the first ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights (AICHR) Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices Regarding International Human Rights Law. The Judicial Colloquium aimed to strengthen judicial cooperation and encourage greater peer-to-peer interaction between relevant stakeholders, and to provide a platform to share good practices and challenges in the implementation of international human rights laws in ASEAN.

In the Keynote Address delivered by H.E. Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia on behalf of H.E. Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, he extended his congratulations to the recently established Council of ASEAN Chief Justices (CACJ) for its induction as an entity associated with ASEAN under the ASEAN Charter. He expressed trust that the Colloquium will serve as a marker to start the institutional relationship between the CACJ and AICHR. He also conveyed his pride on the impact that AICHR has made in its work and encouraged the human rights body to actively devise methods and strategies to be the human rights standard-setting institution of ASEAN.

“The Judiciaries’ discussion on international and regional instruments in the Colloquium will serve to advance a greater understanding and acceptance of human rights norms in the region,” he further stressed, as he highlighted the crucial role of the Judiciary to promote and protect the rights of peoples and to serve as check and balance to the other branches of government. He ended his address by expressing hope that participants can build on the existing multilateral judicial cooperation framework under ASEAN and forge an even stronger partnership after the event, “for it is only by progressing together can we secure greater prosperity and freedom for the ASEAN peoples.”

H.E. Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Representative of Malaysia to AICHR, welcomed the participants to the Judicial Colloquium. He emphasised that the AICHR, on its eighth year of existence, continues to evolve its institutional and structural capacity to better promote and protect human rights for the peoples in the region. He urged fellow AICHR Representatives to be bold and hold fast to the terms of their mandate, to be independent yet consultative.

He encouraged the application of international and regional human rights instruments in ASEAN, citing recent jurisprudence using these instruments as the basis for decisions.  He added that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration maybe used as a guide in interpreting domestic laws, to increase domestic jurisprudence and acceptance of human rights norms in the region.  Moreover, noting the increased challenges to the rule of law in the past few years, he stressed that the first challenge of change falls on practitioners in the rule of law in the justice system to find ways to collaborate on joint efforts to enhance effective access to justice.

Lastly, he emphasised the key role that ASEAN judiciaries face in preparing the domestic legal sector for the requirements of the ASEAN legal framework and stressed the necessity of judicial cooperation in the implementation of the norms set out in the AHRD.

The Opening Ceremony was followed by panel discussions and working group sessions over the course of the three days, with over 100 participants consisting of senior judges from the highest judicial branches of ASEAN Member States, representatives of the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices (CACJ), representatives of AICHR, and representatives of civil society organisations with consultative relationship with AICHR.

The event was capped by the adoption of the Outcome Document’s Recommendations presented for the AICHR’s consideration, to: (1) conduct capacity-building programmes; (2) conduct greater peer-to-peer interaction between relevant stakeholders; (3) compile a regional reference guide in respect of the AHRD, CEDAW, CRC, CRPD, and the role of the judiciary in the promotion and protection of the rule of law and human rights; (4) enhance effective access to justice and legal remedies by strengthening the provision of legal aid in the region; and (5) consult and/or collaborate with other ASEAN bodies and entities associated with ASEAN, including civil society organisations, to realise these recommendations. (Photo credit: AICHR Malaysia)