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Encouraging AICHR to Address the Urgent Issue of Irregular Migration Crisis in Asean

By ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights  •  June 19, 2015

Jakarta, 17 June 2015. The Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Rafendi Djamin, encouraged the AICHR as the overarching Human Rights institution in ASEAN to discuss and address the humanitarian and human rights crisis – migration flow and seafaring refugees – which has become increasingly prevalent in ASEAN.

Such was highlighted by Rafendi Djamin during the Special Meeting of the AICHR in Bandar Sri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 13-15 June 2015. The Meeting was held primarily to focus on the preparations for the AICHR’s Interface with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) to be held in August 2015. However, according to Rafendi, the on-going humanitarian crisis requires immediate attention from the AICHR. Due to that, Indonesia has sent a letter to the Chair of the AICHR dated 5 June 2015, to include a discussion on the irregular migration crisis in the agenda.

Rafendi emphasised that, “as representatives of an overarching ASEAN Human Rights Body, who are elected with a specific purpose to promote and protect the rights of the people in this region, and given the grievances and hardships the migrants are facing, it is only appropriate for us to have an honest and constructive discussion on this urgent matter.”

According to Rafendi, the crisis is caused by several factors, especially, the existence of difficult circumstances and threat of prosecution faced by the migrants or refugees within their own state. This situation is worsened by the existence of human trafficking and smuggling syndicate, making the situation for the refugees more vulnerable, which subsequently requires attention of AICHR.

The crisis of irregular migration has been the focus of some ASEAN Foreign Ministers with the subsequent issue of a Joint Statement on Irregular Migration in South East Asia by three (3) ASEAN Foreign Ministers – namely from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In the Joint Statement, the Foreign Ministers called for ASEAN to play an active role in addressing the irregular migration crisis in a swift and efficient way, in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity. They also urged for an emergency meeting of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) to address the crisis. The Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR welcomes the recent Decision of the Senior Offiials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOM-TC) during their recent meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to organise an emergency meeting at the ministerial level on 2 July 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the AICHR’s Interface with the AMM, the Special Meeting discussed: the AICHR’s Annual Report to the AMM, the AICHR Five-Year Work Plan 2016-2020, the AICHR’s Priority Programs and Activities for 2016, and the AICHR’s statement to the AMM. Indonesia’s specific aim and interest are, among others, in relation strengthening of the AICHR’s protection mandate as well as a follow-up on the recommendation of the AICHR’s Thematic Study on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Rights.

For the Annual Report 2015, Indonesia reiterated the need for ASEAN Member States to support their Representatives (both facilities and human resource). Indonesia also proposed an initiative to become the implementing state for AICHR’s activity on Freedom of Religion and Trafficking in Persons in 2016.

For the AICHR Five-Year Work Plan 2016-2020, Indonesia has put forward a formulation of measurable objectives that could be achieved in the next 5 years of AICHR’s operation in relation to the strengthening of the secretariat for AICHR, wider inclusion of stakeholders, the need for a communication procedure between AICHR and ASEAN Member States, as well as the reinforcement of AICHR protection mandate. Despite having the support of several Member States, it is regrettable that a consensus could not be achieved to incorporate Indonesia’s inputs.

During the Special Meeting, the AICHR also provided its inputs to the Draft ASEAN Community Vision-2025 and its Attendant Document for ASEAN Political-Security Community. In addition, the AICHR is also keen to provide its inputs to the AICHR Community Vision-2025 Attendant Document for the Economic and Socio-Cultural Community – with consideration that human rights should be mainstreamed in all three ASEAN community pillars.

The AICHR also discussed and adopted several activities to be implemented in 2015, including a workshop to develop synergy on combatting trafficking in persons – in which Indonesia will take lead in organising conjointly with the SOM-TC this upcoming August in Bali.

View the original press release here.

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