A coalition of Indonesian human rights group has expressed concern that the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights has been preparing an important rights declaration in secrecy, without consulting any of the stakeholders.

Yuyun Wahyuningrum, a senior adviser on human rights and Asean from the Human Rights Working Group, said that the AICHR was currently working on the Asean Human Rights Declaration that was scheduled to be presented to foreign ministers of the regional grouping in July.

The draft is expected to be signed by the Asean leaders during a regional summit in November.

“The AICHR has really been secretive in dealing with a document that will impact the lives of the 580 million people who live in Asean,” Yuyun told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.

She said that since July 21 when the first meeting of the drafting group was held, there had not been any consultations with stakeholders, including civil society representatives, victims of human rights violations or others.

“There are grounds for suspicion and worries about the process,” Yuyun said, adding that so far the AICHR had also never made any draft of the declaration public or even available to the stakeholders.

She said that the people of the 10 member states of Asean — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — deserved to know about the contents of such a key document that would affect their lives.

“The secretive nature of the process has also left many people in the region unaware that such a human rights declaration is even being discussed and prepared,” Yuyun said.

The AICHR is a human rights body established by the Association of Southeast Asian Nation in 2009 during the groups’ summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, and acts as a consultative body responsible for advancing and protecting human rights in the region.

Thailand and Indonesia are the only two countries not represented by government appointees, but rather by members elected by local rights groups. –Jakarta Globe