|AICHR rep to meet Suhakam on Asean human rights draft|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2012 08:58am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
by SHAILA KOSHY
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s representative on the Asean Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is meeting Suhakam on the draft Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) next week.
“We meet on April 25,” said Datuk Seri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, whom Malaysia appointed as its representative in 2009.
He was responding to the statement by Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee in The Star on Saturday that AICHR had not had active engagement with any national human rights institution on the proposed declaration after they obtained a working draft on Jan 8.
On Jan 9, The Star reported Shafee as saying Suhakam had invited him for a meeting earlier but he replied that he had been waiting for the draft.
Asked why he was only meeting them now, he said he had identified Suhakam as the only statutory body recognised in Malaysia to deal with matters of human rights here.
“Being a specialised body for human rights, I would rather consult when the progress of the draft is beginning to take shape like now.”
Saying he would meet them a few times, he added that Suhakam had already submitted its input on the various items they would like to be included in the AHRD, to him as well as directly to the AICHR secretariat.
On the draft not being provided to the Asean people and civil societies, he replied the draft was just a proposal of the drafting group.
He said AICHR had “tentatively amended substantively the drafting group’s version” on items they had managed to deliberate so far.
Noting a substantial portion had not been discussed yet, he said it was “insane for anyone to suggest this incomplete draft be provided”.
“We could change our mind on the first cut itself over substance or style,” he said, adding that as a working draft it was confidential.
He argued effective consultation was possible on each subject even without a draft as everyone knew what would be included in any human rights declaration.
“I have consulted local NGOs and the Bar Council representative in this manner and I found no impediment whatsoever,” he said, adding that he had consulted Proham once and a few times with Wisma Putra and the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
He said AICHR would consult with various selected and accredited civil societies from June 22 to 23 here.
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