Basic rights lacking in Asia

Published February 1, 2006

Nepali police try to stop human rights activists who were demonstrating against the Nepali monarchy in Kathmandu. Nepal was named in a recent statement as one of many Asian countries that lacks "basic structures for the accountability of respecting human rights."

The rule of law does not exist in most parts of Asia, thus denying the basic human rights of many citizens in a vast continent, home to more than half of the world’s people, says a regional inter-faith human rights watch body.

In many Asian countries, said the inter-faith Religious Group for Human Rights, “the effort to create the conditions for the realization of human rights compares very poorly to the hard work that has been undertaken to create an awareness of human rights,” said the inter-faith Religious Group for Human Rights.

In a statement to mark Human Rights Day last Dec.10, the group, which is linked to the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, said the result is that people whose rights are continuously violated ask their governments as well as the United Nations, “Where are my rights?”

“Neither the governments nor the UN and the international community are able to give a satisfactory answer as of now,” commented the group. It noted that Burma, Nepal and Cambodia are among countries where the political system obstructs a path to the realization of people’s rights.

“These states do not even have the basic structures for the accountability of respecting human rights,” the group said. It urged the UN to specifically attend to them and help develop institutions to which people can seek redress to protect their rights.

The group also cited India and China where “there are similar patterns of obstructing the rights of people through defects in their rule of law systems.”

The rule of law is also “seriously flawed” and “torture is endemic” in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, the group said. All these countries, said the group, are marked by arbitrary policing; a lack of redress mechanisms; extreme difficulty for the poor to access the law; long delays in judicial processes; the absence of protection for complainants and victims; and a weak development of the legal profession.

Singapore has also made it hard for people to enjoy their individual rights, the group added, noting that the economically powerful city state does not recognize the validity of international human rights covenants and conventions.


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