ASIA: Urgent need for competent public justice systems

An Oral Statementto the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status

Thank you Mr. President,

The Asian Legal Resource Centre reiterates that full realization of human rights for all depends on competent public justice systems, functioning effectively, within a rule of law framework. In many Asian states, however, public justice systems have not only failed to function, they now serve private interests, and enforcement agents serving such private interests are granted impunity.

The Pakistan Protection Ordinance promulgated in September 2013 allows detention for up to 90 days before a writ of habeas corpus becomes applicable. It grants state agents the power to shoot suspects on sight. The Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014, is also alarming. It legalizes “encounter killings”, a practice of police and paramilitary across South Asia.

In Bangladesh, the Rapid Action Battalion uses such extrajudicial killings, along with torture and disappearances, with impunity. In Sri Lanka, the case of SandunMalinga, a 17-year-old tortured and killed at Kandaketiya Police Station, is a recent example of continuing extrajudicial killings. In Myanmar, torture remains standard operating procedure for law enforcement agents “solving” cases. And, in India the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, continues to shield thousands of murderers, rapists, and torturers in uniform.

Institutions masquerading as justice institutions in Asia need radical transformation. Without competent public justice systems operating under the rule of law, and without equality before law for all citizens – including public officials and those in uniform – justice and human rights will remain unrealizable ideals in Asia.

I thank you Mr. President.

Webcast video: 2:33:05-2:34:58

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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

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27nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC