Thursday, July 26, 2012

End torture in the Asian region: parliamentarians

Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:23 Mizzima News

Parliamentarians from eight Asian nations and civil society representatives have called for the end of torture and ill-treatment by governments in the region, in a meeting organized by the Asian Alliance against Torture and Ill Treatment (AAATI).

The four-day meeting in Singapore called for similar initiatives and consultations in every country in the region to tackle the prevailing widespread practice of torture.

Burmese security police posted in Rangoon on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Photo: Ye Min / Mizzima

In states where laws criminalizing torture exist, the laws must be effectively put to use, and in states where such laws are yet to be legislated, initiatives must be fast-tracked, said the participants.

The group said it is essential police evolve into professional, service-oriented, modern agencies rather that just uniformed organs of the state that enforce legitimate and illegitimate state writs. Essential, radical, reforms in policing would contribute substantially to end the culture of corruption and impunity in many Asian countries, it said.

Threats to state security are real in the region, it said. However, dehumanizing and demonizing political opponents, and reducing spaces for public discourse on concerns of personal liberties, augmented by arbitrary and state-sponsored violence, is not the way to achieve international standards.

This tendency to disregard the absolute nature of human rights in the ruse of national security is not only dangerous but could reduce the notion of democracy, it said. The rule of law and uncompromising adherence to democratic practices and norms is the best instrument to fight security threats.

Fundamental to open public debate is the guarantee of freedom of expression and opinion, it said. Governments must promote media freedoms and end circumscribing the same by law and practice.

Along with civil society representatives, dignitaries at the meeting included Eran Wickramaratne (Sri Lanka), V. T. Balram (India), Mohammad Fazlul Azim (Bangladesh), Pushpa Bhusal (Nepal),  Abbasi Nusrat Bano and Mr. Saeed Ghani (Pakistan), Sayed Muhammad Muliady (Indonesia), and Raymond Palatino (Philippines). Human rights activists from Burma, Thailand and Denmark also attended.

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