Bandar Seri Begawan - A representative and senior advisor on Asean and Human Rights at the Human Rights Working Groups (HRWG), Yuyun Wahyuningrum praised Brunei Darussalam on its concerted efforts to keep human rights violations at a relatively low level.
In an interview with the Bulletin at the launch of the Council on Social Welfare Brunei Darussalam (MKM) Legal Advice and Advisory Clinic, Wahyuningrum said disputes between migrant Workers and employers are usually settled between the Labour Department and the respective embassies concerned.
Cases of human trafficking in the country are few and far between, said Wahyuningrum - who has over a decade of experience in human rights issues - largely due to the government's efforts in promoting and protecting human rights, especially migrant workers from the Asean region.
"In general, Asean member states have committed themselves to the fight against human trafficking. But in reality, this has not translated into actions and many Asean member states still commit human rights violations," she explained.
To get the message across, she cited a few examples of alleged abuses. In Indonesia there is a lack of religious freedom and many people continue to be deprived of their places of worship, with some places being attacked or forced to shut down by religious groups, she said.
In the Philippines, journalists have been targetted and a few have been killed in the past. The country also suffers from a lack of freedom of expression.
The Swiss-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), which fights for the protection of journalists, says that while Syria remains the most dangerous place for journalists last year with at least 37 reporters killed; the Philippines holds the number seven rank with six reporters having been killed the same year.
In Labs, an activist was kidnapped last December despite the government vehemently denying any involvement. The Laos government defended itself by bringing the case to the United Nations in order to formally state their side of the case.
In Myanmar, a Buddhist monk was arrested last December for his lead role in a protest rally supporting monks who had demonstrated against the activities of a copper mine, which was threatening the health and safety of the environment. Despite calls from international human rights group to release him, he currently still remains under detention.
In her capacity as the senior advisor at HRWG, Yuyun Wahyuningrum says she is working towards an efficient mechanism for the sometimes complex machinery of human rights, and wants to ensure that Asean governments and the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) are working closely together to protect the universal rights of women and children.
"The pressing issues on human rights, especially with regard to human trafficking are a growing concern in the region, and Asean member states have so far failed to come together in order to resolve the issue cohesively," stated Wahyuningrum.
"No single country can execute this problem successfully without cooperation from its neighbours due to the prevalence of cross-border human trafficking across Asean," she added.
Brunei will host the Asean Summit this year, and she placed her hopes that the annual Asean Civil Society Conference (ACSC) will be held prior to the gathering of the heads of states. The ACSC primarily holds discussions that range from human rights, women, children, the youth, migrant workers, indigenous people, good governance, security and the environment.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin