Opportunity to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Asia Pacific region must be seized

from Amnesty International
Published on 19 Aug 2013 View Original

Ahead of the Special Regional Conference on Irregular Movement of Persons due to be held on 20 August in Indonesia, Amnesty International calls on Asia-Pacific governments to ensure that regional approaches and solutions to address the plight of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees will be developed with human rights protection at their heart.

According to available information, the Special Conference hosted by Indonesia in Jakarta is expected to discuss, among other issues, the arrival by boat of asylum-seekers and refugees to the shores of Indonesia and Australia. At least 13 countries are believed to have been invited to the meeting including Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The planned conference in Jakarta will host both states which are parties and states which are not parties to the Refugee Convention. Regardless of whether they are party to the Convention, all states have the duty to ensure that the principle of non refoulement of refugees and asylum-seekers to countries where they are risk of persecution (which is a customary rule of international law) is respected.

Amnesty International urges all participants at this meeting to ensure that any regional approach to irregular migration upholds international human rights law and standards, including the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. Such an approach must address systemic regional failures to ensure the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as other individuals arriving by sea.