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New Report: Absent Rule of Law Threatens Human Rights in Asia

Growing human rights abuses in Asia are due primarily to the continued absence of the rule of law there, according to a new report released at a press briefing on Tuesday in Hong Kong.
( [email protected] ) Jan 20, 2006 02:47 PM EST

Growing human rights abuses in Asia are due primarily to the continued absence of the rule of law there, according to a new report released at a press briefing on Tuesday in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in its first annual assessment of the region, released a 169-page report, entitled, The State of Human Rights in Ten Asian Nations: 2005.

The ten countries covered extensively in the report are: Thailand, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, the Philippines, Cambodia, South Korea, and Indonesia.

"We can state unequivocally that across almost all of Asia the situation of human rights worsened in 2005," AHRC reported Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based regional rights body, as saying at the press briefing.

"The primary reason for this situation is the deep flaws in the institutions of justice and policing in these countries," he said. "Where the rule of law is broken down, there is no possibility to implement human rights standards."

"That is why we use implementation, not education, as the key measure for the success or failure of human rights in a given country," he added.

Although the AHRC acknowledges that enormous efforts have been made to raise awareness of human rights, less effort has been made to ensure that human rights is actually protected.

"Torture remains endemic and the rule of law has seen serious setbacks," AHRC said.

Meanwhile, the most populous countries -- China and India -- were also cited as regions that reflect the absence of the rule of law thus affecting human rights for its people.

In China, the AHRC said, progress has been made in the direction of human rights, but the country remains far from establishing a system based on the rule of law.

"China does not recognize a separation of powers between the institutions of the state, and therefore, the independence of the judiciary from the executive does not exist."

"This present reality prevents the possibility of the judiciary intervening as an adjudicator on basic rights issues and obstructs the development of the rule of law in the country."


The report contains a series of open letters to the U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, calling for specific goals to improve the situation of human rights in Asia during 2006.

In addition, the AHRC is calling upon people of Asia and others to pay special attention to the link between the rule of law and human rights.

"Finding ways to resolve this contradiction is the path that has to be tread if human rights are to be a practical reality," AHRC said.

To read the report visit www.ahrchk.net/index.php