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Report: ASEAN forges ahead with human rights declaration

The Associated Press is reporting that ASEAN will move ahead with a planned human rights declaration even in the face of objections from key UN officials and human rights organizations:

Southeast Asian leaders plan to adopt a human rights declaration aimed at fighting torture and illegal arrests in a region notorious for violations, despite calls for a postponement by rights groups which say the pact falls short of international standards.

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are scheduled to formally adopt the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Sunday during the group's annual summit in Cambodia, according to diplomats and documents obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday....

However, more than 60 international rights group urged ASEAN leaders on Thursday to postpone the adoption of the declaration and have it redrafted to correct flaws, including the removal of provisions that could limit rights in the name of "national security" or "public morality."

Phil Robertson of New York-based Human Rights Watch said the declaration "as written, does not meet international human rights standards and may, we fear, be used by ASEAN governments to justify violating rights."

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay earlier expressed concerns that the nonbinding declaration was drafted without adequate public consultations.

Pillay elaborated her dissatisfaction with the ASEAN draft at the recent Bali Democracy Forum, where she said that the document "will only serve to undermine the respect and ownership that such an important declaration deserves."

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