Examining Human Rights in the Context of ASEAN Regional Migration:
Summary Report of Findings from APHR Fact-Finding Mission to Malaysia, 3-7 August 2017
As ASEAN’s regional integration effort proceeds, the movement of people across borders for a variety of reasons is increasing, and migration has remained intrinsically tied to economic development region-wide. Given this context, APHR conducted a fact-finding mission to Malaysia to examine the situation of human rights in the context of intra-regional migration and gain a clearer understanding of the situation for migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking.
This report a summary of the delegation’s observations from the visit and recommendations for how Malaysia, other regional governments, and ASEAN as a whole can best address some of the main concerns identified.
Death Knell for Democracy:
Attacks on Lawmakers and the Threat to Cambodia’s Institutions
In February 2017, Cambodia’s Parliament approved a set of new amendments to the Law on Political Parties, which grant unprecedented powers to the executive and judicial branches to suspend and dissolve parties. The move marked a culmination of nearly two years of escalating persecution of Cambodian lawmakers. These attacks have come in the context of a renewed, broader crackdown on dissent, which has targeted nearly all segments of Cambodian civic life, as well as similar growing threats to other legislators across Southeast Asia.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the ruling party’s efforts to cripple the opposition, in advance of critical commune-level and national elections in 2017 and 2018 respectively, are undermining the fundamental functions and institutions of democratic governance. Addressing persecution and threats against lawmakers, including through revision and clarification of relevant statutes and efforts to ensure all actors adhere to the law, must therefore be a priority for all parties interested in stability, prosperity, and accountability in Cambodia.
Disenfranchisement and Desperation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State:
Drivers of a Regional Crisis
Political exclusion is exacerbating the already intense sense of desperation among Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and driving a regional crisis that ASEAN leaders are ill prepared to confront. Unless serious steps are taken to address the situation of deprivation and despair in Rakhine State, many Rohingya will have no other option but to flee in search of asylum elsewhere.
The report examines in detail the factors driving Rohingya to flee, and explores steps that can be taken by the Myanmar government and other ASEAN governments to help mitigate those factors.
The Rohingya Crisis and the Risk of Atrocities in Myanmar: An ASEAN Challenge and Call to Action
The longstanding persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar has led to the highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea since the U.S. war in Vietnam. Human rights violations against Rohingya have resulted in a regional human trafficking epidemic, and there have been further abuses against Rohingya upon their arrival in other Southeast Asian countries.
The report represents a call to action. It demonstrates that the escalating human rights crisis in Myanmar and Southeast Asia more broadly is exacerbated by ASEAN’s failure to take effective action.