Mechanism to protect HR in Saarc states sought
ISLAMABAD: With ASEAN member states heading towards formation of a human rights body, Saarc countries should take an initiative for inter-governmental mechanism to protect and promote human rights in the region.
These views were expressed by speakers at a seminar on “the need for inter-governmental human rights mechanism in South Asia” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. They expressed grave concerns over widespread and systematic human rights violations, inter-state and intra-state conflicts that continued to plague South Asia.
The speakers stressed that Saarc must address pressing multilateral issues like hunger, unemployment, violence against women and children and climate change.
Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Chairperson Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Bangkok, and Surya Deuja, South Asia Programme Manager of Forum Asia,k said the Saarc countries continued to affirm the universal principles and values of human rights in a number of international instruments.
“Saarc summit declarations call for respect to principles, including the right to health, education, food, water, development and to be free from trafficking with specific reference to women, children, youth and migrant workers,” Mr Pyakurel said.
He stressed the need to recognise the need for Saarc to adopt a rights-based and gender-sensitive approach to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including religious intolerance.
The seminar was informed that positive development was made at the 16th Saarc summit held in Bhutan for establishing a regional human rights mechanism which could help the states promote and protect rights and freedoms in their jurisdiction.
Mr Surya mentioned that the regional mechanism would be helpful in situations when domestic institutions failed to uphold the law or when they themselves were the violators of the law.
“It may be possible or necessary to seek redress beyond national boundaries,” Mr Surya said, adding regional legal frameworks gave violated rights holders the possibility of bringing their cases to a regional body, providing that the country in question was part of the framework, and providing that all national remedies have either been exhausted or deemed inefficient.
The experts said regional bodies can be more effective compared to the international forums due to particular geographical, social and cultural context The overview of the existing regional mechanism at Europe, America, African and new sub-regional human rights body in ASEAN countries was also highlighted.