ASIA: The ALRC submits seven country reports to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism

(Hong Kong, February 28, 2008) The Asian Legal Resource Centre has recently submitted six separate country reports for consideration by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. These include reports on India, Indonesia and the Philippines, which will be under consideration during a working group of the UPR between April 7 and 18, 2008, as well as Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka, which will be reviewed in a session held from May 5 to 16, 2008. The ALRC has also jointly submitted a report prepared by Japanese non-governmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Now, concerning the state of human rights in Japan.

The recently-formed UN Human Rights Council (HRC) established the UPR as a means to monitor the human rights situations in all UN member-States, starting with the members of the HRC itself, ostensibly in order to avoid the situation encountered in the past in which grave violators of human rights were able to achieve membership of the UN’s apex human rights body. Each member-nation will be reviewed every four years. The State in question will submit a 10-page report concerning its evaluation of its performance with regard to human rights. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will prepare a 10-page report concerning its evaluation of the State’s record. NGOs and other stake-holders, including national human rights institutions, have also been invited to submit 5-page reports that will be synthesised by the OHCHR into a third 10-page document.

The input by these various actors will be reviewed in sessions of the UPR working group, leading to outcomes that, it is hoped, will make recommendations that States will be called upon to implement. The credibility of the reforms to the UN’s human rights system very much depend on the UPR mechanism being able to function in a visibly effective manner, as it is the main positive innovation engendered by these reforms.

In light of the importance of having civil society views gain as much space as possible within this process, without which it is unlikely to reflect the gravity of human rights situations in most of Asia’s nations, the ALRC has submitted reports concentrating on the following issues:

India: This report concentrates on the issues of caste-based discrimination, policing and custodial torture, and the right to food, including starvations deaths. Please see the report here:

Indonesia: This report centres on the difficulties faced by human rights defenders in the country, violations in West Papua, the country’s culture of impunity, abuses of minority groups’ rights and the lack of domestic legislation which leads to ongoing grave rights violations, such as torture. Please see the report here:; and an annex here:

Japan: This joint-report with NGO HRN presents analysis on the lack of implementation of the human rights treaties to which Japan is party, the lack of a national human rights institution, failings in the criminal justice system, capital punishment, torture, discrimination, and the freedoms of thought and expression. The report and an annex can be found here, respectively: and

Pakistan: The situation in Pakistan is amongst the worst in the region, and this report concentrates on key themes such as torture, forced disappearances, attacks on the independence of the judiciary, the war on terror and the freedoms of the media and expression. The report and an annex can be found here: and

The Philippines: The outstanding issue amongst many in the country is the ongoing problem of the extra-judicial killing and forced disappearance of left-leaning members of Filipino society, as well as the iron-clad impunity that accompanies these grave violations. This report highlights how the lack of investigations, witness protection and prosecutions is allowing these killings to continue occurring. Please see the report and an annex here: and

South Korea: The ALRC submitted a brief report concerning the threats to the independence of South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission. Since this report was released, on February 21, 2008, these threats have thankfully diminished. Please find the report here:

Sri Lanka: The human rights situation in the country has degraded to critical levels during the last year. The ALRC has therefore focussed here on the gravest ongoing problems, which include: the collapse of the rule of law, torture and killings by the police, forced disappearances, the Constitutional crisis and the compromised Attorney General’s position. The report can be found here:

It is vital that non-governmental sources of information be included in a credible way in the UPR process for it to have any relevance or positive effect, and it is hoped that the above reports will therefore play an important role in informing the international community of the reality of human rights in the above countries, in order for a true process of review to take place.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : ALRC-PRL-001-2008
Countries : Asia, Hong Kong,