KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Bernama) — Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria has urged ASEAN members to develop a baseline of jurisprudence if the grouping is serious in its aim to strength the implementation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).
He said that development should be commonly acknowledged and accepted by ASEAN Member States (AMS) to ensure uniformity in the application of the AHRD.
“While the AHRD has been in existence for almost five years now, there is a dearth of commentaries or jurisprudential articles to explain how the rights stated therein, are to be interpreted or implemented,” he added.
Arifin was making his opening statement at the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights (AICHR) Judicial Colloquium On The Sharing of Good Practices Regarding International Human Rights held at a hotel here today.
He said in order for the AHRD to be useful to ASEAN peoples, it was time the relevant ASEAN bodies such as AICHR led the way in guiding the region.
“As the foremost human rights body established by the Charter of the United Nations, AICHR has the expertise to assist in clarifying the human rights concept stated in the AHRD, and share its views on the same,” he said, adding that this exercise by AICHR might be undertaken in mutual collaboration with AMS’ judiciaries.
Arifin also said the colloquium was designed to bring ASEAN judiciaries together, in collectively aligning AMS towards ASEAN’s goals.
He said ASEAN was home to approximately 625 million people and in 2015, the association’s combined nominal Gross Domestic Product had grown to more than US$2.8 trillion.
“In light of ASEAN’s rapid development as a growing regional hub for trade, there have been and continues to be many human rights challenges facing the region.”
The chief justice said the judicial arm of each AMS should therefore, be equipped with appropriate tools and mechanism to deal with such challenges in a way that was fair, just, efficient and consistent with the rule of law.
Arifin said this colloquium has brought the ASEAN people’s together to share good practices and challenges in the implementation of international human rights laws and share experiences in strengthening laws relating to human rights.
“The colloquium is most timely, given that the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025 mandates regional programmes for mutual support and assistance among AMS to develop strategies for strengthening the rule of law, judicial systems and legal infrastructure,” he added.
Arifin also commended AICHR for having taken this initiative to implement one of the key elements of the blueprint.
The AICHR is jointly ogranised by AICHR Malaysia, Malaysian Foreign Ministry, AICHR of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Lao PDR Foreign Ministry, AICHR Thailand and Thai Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with the Malaysian Judiciary, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and various international partners.
The three-day programme beginning today, includes panel discussions and working group sessions, among others, on the role of the judiciary in the promotion and protection of human rights.
More than 100 participants, including senior judges from the highest judicial branches of ASEAN Member States, representatives of the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices and representatives of AICHR attended the programme.