Saturday, 27 June 2020 10:02

AICHR Indonesia Encourages ASEAN to Form Refugee Protection Agency

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AICHR Indonesia encourages ASEAN to form refugee protection agency

Several Rohingya refugees rest in a hut of Lancok coastal traders in Syantalira Bayu District, North Aceh, Aceh, Thursday (25/6/2020). (Antara Foto / Rahmad/ak)

AICHR Indonesia encouraged the Association of Nations in Southeast Asia (ASEAN) to immediately establish a special refugee protection body, as several Southeast Asian nations are oftentimes the destinations of refugees, including Rohingyas, fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

Indonesian Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Yuyun Wahyuningrum make the remark through a written statement on Thursday (June 25), as received in Jakarta on Friday.

Wahyuningrum also called for the ASEAN to immediately outline protocols or ways that can be applied together to ensure the safety and security of refugees.

Wahyuningrum remarked that the Government of Indonesia could lead the discussion on establishing the protocol and protection body at the summit of ASEAN countries.

The 10 ASEAN countries held a virtual 36th high-level conference on June 26.

AICHR's terms of reference that prevents it from effectively protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms are one of the reasons behind several ASEAN countries refusing to extend assistance to Rohingya refugees adrift at sea.

Although other countries refused, the Government and people of Indonesia opted to help Rohingya refugees based on the fact that they had sailed through perilous seas in search of berths.

Recently, the residents of Lancuk, North Aceh, Aceh Province, rescued 94 Rohingya refugees, and they were evacuated to the mainland after being adrift in the waters near the coast since Wednesday (June 24).

Wahyuningrum pointed out that it was not the first time that such humanitarian action was taken by Aceh citizens, since in 2015, the local community had also received Rohingya refugees after they were not allowed to dock in Malaysia and Thailand.

"Once again, the people of Aceh are demonstrating humanity, leadership qualities, generosity, and solidarity to those compelled to flee their homes to avoid persecution," Wahyuningrum remarked.

Furthermore, she welcomed the statement of the Indonesian Government's commitment to protect refugees.

"I laud the statement of the Indonesian minister of foreign affairs (Retno Marsudi) who said that Indonesia remains committed to providing assistance and taking various steps to prevent Rohingya refugees from undertaking dangerous trips in the ocean," Wahyuningrum stated.

On the occasion, Wahyuningrum reminded the Indonesian government to meet the basic requirements of refugees, including shelter with sanitation, food, and security and safety guarantees. Furthermore, the Government of Indonesia should ensure that refugees adhere to health protocols to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

"Although Indonesia is not yet a member of the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has ratified the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which in Article 13 explicitly prohibits the expulsion of collective exclusion. Not only that, the rights for asylum seekers is also protected in the ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights," Wahyuningrum emphasized. (ANTARA)

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