18 Jan 06
People in Asia are being denied their human rights because of an absence of the rule of law in much of the continent, a new report has said.
The Asian Human Rights Commission, a Hong Kong-based non-governmental group, says enormous efforts have been made to raise awareness of human rights.
But much less work goes into making sure that they are actually protected.
Most Asian countries have adopted the UN conventions and charters promoting human rights and outlawing abuses.
But the Asian Human Rights Commission argues they are not widely adhered to.
The efforts to protect human rights compare very poorly with the hard work that has been undertaken to create an awareness of those rights.
Burma, Nepal and Cambodia are countries that have no way of enforcing the rights of their peoples, the commission’s report says.
While democratic and human rights jargon is used in these states, their citizens cannot approach the authorities with even a most rudimentary confidence and belief that the state will respect their rights.
India is criticised for the delays in its justice system and its police force’s prejudice against minorities.
The lack of the rule of law in much of China, the commission says, is also a problem.
Many other Asian countries are attacked for not doing enough to prevent torture.
Singapore is singled out for creating a society where it is in effect impossible, the report says, for people to enjoy individual rights enjoyed elsewhere on the continent, such as freedom of expression or assembly.
In Singapore, it says, the capacity to assert one’s rights simply does not exist at all.
Excerpt of AHRC’s message
Meanwhile, the denial of human rights in Singapore belongs to a special category. Singapore makes it effectively impossible for people to live in an environment in which individual rights can exist. The ruling party is also virtually the state. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and the capacity to assert one’s rights do not exist in this environment at all. The absolute denial of rights makes it impossible for the realisation of any of the rights enshrined in the international covenants and conventions. In fact, the official political ideology does not recognise the validity of these covenants and conventions.
For full report, go to: http://www.ahrchk.net/hrday2005/05message.htm