ASIA: Increasing efforts by Asian states to ensure impunity for abuses of human rights
date: March 21, 2012
document id: ALRC-COS-19-11-2012
HRC section: Item 4 -- General Debate
Speaker: Mr. Norman Voss
An Oral Statement to the 19th 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 ALRC wishes to highlight States' increased efforts to engineer systems of impunity and to undermine work to protect human rights in the Asian region.
The case of Bangladeshi human rights defender FMA Razzak, who was severely tortured by members of the military, including having his eyes gouged and being left for dead on April 29, 2011, speaks to this point. The authorities have failed to effectively investigate the case. Now, the victim faces baseless legal attacks to force him to drop his complaint.
In Nepal, despite promises to establish effective transitional justice, the State has not only failed to address conflict-related and ongoing violations - including hundreds of cases of forced disappearances and widespread torture - but is attempting to provide blanket impunity. Government intervention has led to over 600 court cases against alleged perpetrators being arbitrarily withdrawn since 2006. The government reportedly decided on March 6 to withdraw over 400 further cases, including cases of killings and abductions. In January, a multi-party taskforce recommended amnesty for past violations be introduced into the draft Bill establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A general amnesty or prosecutions for only certain crimes, not including grave violations such as torture, are under consideration.
In the Philippines, a corrupted legal system is enabling numerous arbitrary detentions and abusive prosecutions of human rights defenders, as well as widespread arbitrary dismissals of cases, notably those relating to torture by State agents.
In Pakistan, hundreds of forced disappearances resulting in extra-judicial killings continue to be documented, notably in Balochistan province, with the country's ISI intelligence agency known to be responsible for many of these. The ALRC remains concerned that despite the adoption last Friday of the National Commission for Human Rights Bill 2012, which also prohibits intelligence agencies from illegally detaining any citizen, the ISI will continue to act beyond and above the law.
Finally, the ALRC welcomes the draft resolution on Sri Lanka.