5 October 2015
Caraka Loka, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
“The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) always endeavours to synergise with other ASEAN organs/sectoral bodies in the promotion and protection of human rights.” Such was stated by Rafendi Djamin, Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, while opening the Public Debate and Discussion “Strengthening the Protection Mandate of ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms in Preventing and Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls in ASEAN”. The convening of such Public Debate and Discussion for the 4th time was a reflection of such endeavour by AICHR Indonesia to synergise, where the Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR collaborated with the Representatives of Indonesia to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in addressing an issue of common interest for both Commissions. The organisation of the event was supported by Directorate-General of ASEAN Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Aside from the general objective to raise awareness and understanding, as well as provide a room for dialogue amongst national stakeholders on the issue of violence against women and girls in various situations in ASEAN; the Public Debate and Discussion has a specific aim to generate inputs from stakeholders for Representatives of Indonesia to ASEAN bodies/organs such as the AICHR, ACWC and ACMW (ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers) in their effort to strengthen mandate for protection of women and girls. Additionally, for AICHR Indonesia, inputs from stakeholders may be utilised to formulate Road Map to Strengthen the Protection Mandate of the AICHR – an initiative of the Representative of Indonesia with the Representative of the Philippines to the AICHR.
Four resource persons in the Public Debate and Discussion were Ms Sri Danti Anwar (Expert Staff of the Ministry for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia, Representative of Indonesia to ASEAN Committee on Women) representing the government’s point of view, Ms Yuniyanti Chuzaifah (Chair of Commission on Violence against Women 2011-2015) representing an independent human rights institution, and Ms Rita S. Kolibonso (Chair of Mitra Perempuan, Representative of Indonesia to ACWC for Women’s Rights 2010-2014) and Ms Nursyahbani Katjasungkana (National Coordinator for LBH APIK) representing civil society’s point of view.
Over one hundred (100) national stakeholders – coming from ministries and government agencies, as well as academe, women’s empowerment and violence against women organisations, as well as other civil society organisations, electronic and print media, etc. – participated in the Public Debate and Discussion. The Forum was also attended by several Ambassadors, as well as representatives of ASEAN Dialogue Partners such as Japan, Republic of Korea, European Union, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, etc.
Discussions were divided into three clusters: (1) international and regional human rights standard as the legal basis for protection of rights of women and girls in ASEAN; (2) mechanism for ASEAN organs/sectoral bodies related to human rights issues (namely in relation to protection of rights of women and girls) in carrying out its mandates, as well as how to synergise and an efficient and effective division of work amongst them; and, (3) implementation of international as well as regional instruments at the national level, as well as best practices at the national level that could be taken up to the ASEAN level on the protection of the rights of women and girls.
As a wrap-up to the discussions, the Representative of Indonesia came to the following conclusions:
· Aside from CEDAW and CRC, there is a need to encourage ASEAN Member States in ratifying other international convention that relates to the prevention as well as elimination of violence against women and girls – such as the UN Convention against Torture, ILO Convention 89 on Domestic Workers, the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances, and others. In relation to a legally binding human rights standard setting/norms, there is a need to ensure that ASEAN human rights norms do not downgrade the existing international standard. Furthermore, ASEAN should formulate certain guidelines on how to implement existing declarations. There was also a recommendation to develop a minimum standardised assistance to victims of violence against women and girls in ASEAN, which could be seen as form of strengthening protection mandate in the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
· One mechanism that was mentioned and/or proposed from Discussions was a Joint Task Force on the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls in ASEAN. The Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR highlighted that such Joint Task Force was one that could very well be realised, and at the same time could be seen as a way to synergise amongst ASEAN organs/bodies in addressing human rights issues in the region. The Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR further underlined that another example of alignment of work among ASEAN organs/bodies is the upcoming AICHR-SOMTC (Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime) Joint Workshop to address the issue of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in the region.
· Discussions also revealed that an obstacle on the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls is the issue of minimum capacity and political commitment from government and politicians at the district/regency level in carrying out its human rights obligations.
In the event that the Public Debate and Discussion is first held at Caraka Loka, situated in the ASEAN-Indonesia National Secretariat, the AICHR Indonesia secretariat office is also launch – which was officiated formally by Ambassador I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Chair of ASEAN-Indonesia National Secretariat.
The Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR will convene the 5th and final of the series of Public Debate and Discussions in early December 2015.