NEWSLETTER: MARCH 2019 ISSUE

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Welcome to the first issue of APRRN’s Newsletter for 2019! Here is a glimpse of what APRRN has been working on for the past 3 months. If you have any inquiries or feedback, kindly contact Rachel Tan at rachel@aprrn.info.

 

QUICK SNAPSHOT

GENERAL

  • Amnesty International Media Awards 2018

NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY

  • Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) in Morocco
  • The Adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and Affirmation of Global Compact on Refugees
  • Recent Movements on Immigration Crackdown and Detention in Thailand
  • South Asians For Human Rights Forum
  • Advocacy for The Release of Hakeem Al-Araibi
  • Thailand Signs the Memorandum of Understanding to End Immigration Detention of Children

 

GLOBAL FORUM FOR MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT (GFMD) IN MOROCCO

5-7 DECEMBER 2018

Newsletter - UNHCR-NGO Consultations

In the beginning of December, civil society organisations, academia, NGOs, trade unions, diaspora groups, governments and international organisations from across the globe convened in Marrakesh, Morocco for the Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD). With over 150 governments and 250 civil society in attendance, the Forum provided a space for attendees to discuss current policies and practices affecting migrants and refugees across the world.

APRRN was represented by Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones; GCM Focal Point, Carolina Gottardo; former APRRN Chair Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti; and a member from Malaysia, Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna. APRRN representatives acted as panelists, discussion starters, resource persons and speakers throughout the three-day event, speaking on a range of topics including admissions, borders and return, climate-induced displacement, categories and labels in migration, gender-responsive implementations of the GCM, and the role of diasporas. More information on the GFMD can be found here.

In conjunction with the GFMD, APRRN and Act Alliance co-organised a side event entitled “Implementing Protection in the Global Compacts: Fostering Innovative and Holistic Approaches”. Representatives from civil society, government agencies and key member states including Sri Lanka, the Holy See and El Salvador were present as speakers and panellists.

Newsletter - UNHCR-NGO Consultations

The Marrakech Women’s Rights Manifesto was also launched with the support of APRRN’s member Carolina Gottardo.

Germany and Morocco assumed co-chairmanship of the GFMD from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2018. The primary focus over this two-year period has been to contribute to the debates and discussions around the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted by community of states end of 2018.

The next GFMD will be held in Ecuador in December 2019.

 

ADOPTION OF THE GLOBAL COMPACT FOR SAFE, ORDERLY AND REGULAR MIGRATION (GCM) AND AFFIRMATION OF THE GLOBAL COMPACT ON REFUGEES (GCR)

10-11 DECEMBER 2018

As part of ‘Migration Week’ in Morocco, several APRRN members attended the UN Intergovernmental Migration Conference for the adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).

The adoption of the GCM is a truly historic milestone as the GCM is the first instrument to look at principles, objectives and frameworks to coordinate all aspects of international migration. APRRN has been a significant contributor to the development process of the GCM since the consultative stage two years ago.

There is a strong political support for the GCM in Asia Pacific, given that many in the region account themselves as countries of origin, transit and destination for migration. Some of the Asian countries which endorsed the pact include Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines Nepal and Korea. Other countries within the region have also expressed positive support for the GCM.

The test of this monumental instrument now lies in its implementation, measurable impact, and changes on the ground i.e. the real difference it makes to the lives of migrants, refugees, people seeking asylum and those on the move in this region. It is critical that APRRN as a network facilitates and monitors the incorporation of the global compacts into National Action Plans, coupled with collaborative regional efforts. Complementarity between the pacts and a whole of society approach will continue to be APRRN’s priority in this initial phase of follow up, implementation and review.

On 19 December, the GCM was formally endorsed by the UN General Assembly in New York by a vote. 153 Member States voted in favour of the resolution, while five countries (United States, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland) voted against it. 12 countries (including Australia and Singapore) abstained.

Global Compact on Refugees
In parallel with the GCM, the UN General Assembly affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) on the 17 December 2018. An overwhelming majority of UN member states voted in favour of the pact; an expression of international solidarity and cooperation for better refugee protection and development of host communities. US and Hungary, unfortunately, were states which voted against the GCR.

During the two years of extensive consultations led by UNHCR with stakeholders, APRRN members, Dr. Eileen Pittaway and Dr. Linda Bartolomei from the Forced Migration Research Network of University of New South Wales (UNSW) diligently and persistently pushed for the inclusion of gender equality and protection of women and girls in the compact. Together with five refugee community representatives and support staffs, they form the Gender Audit team which attended and purposefully engaged in the thematic meetings. Strong recommendations were made for gender parity on the panels and for gender dimensions of issues to be addressed.

Significant shifts were seen resulting from their tireless interventions. One notable progress include the addition of a roundtable on gender equality to the formal meeting with a majority of panel speakers coming from refugee backgrounds, including women from Myanmar and Sudan and one young Sudanese man living as a refugee in Uganda. States from both the global South and the global North also raised gendered concerns and proposed concrete recommendations, and an increased number of States also shared good practices to support more effective gendered protection responses. To learn more about their engagement in the process leading up to the drafting of the GCR, see here.

APRRN would like to especially thank all members of the Regional Protection Working Group for their perseverance, vision and dedication in the lead up to the adoption of the GCM and affirmation of the GCR. A special mention must also be made for all refugee representatives, Dr. Eileen, Dr. Linda, Ms. Carolina Gottardo, APRRN’s GCM Focal Point for their tireless work in the development of these Compacts.

 

RECENT MOVEMENTS ON IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN AND DETENTION IN THAILAND

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2018

Following the rampant crackdowns since August 2018 in Bangkok, there have been several positive movements seen in the response from both governmental and non-governmental agencies to the situation.
APRRN, together with the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP) have continuously engaged the Department of Children and Youth (DCY) and Immigration Bureau to ensure that priority is given to the safeguarding of women and children in detention. With the MOU signed on the 21 January 2019 effectively ending the detention of children, bail provisions for release are now applicable, primarily for family reunification of mothers and children outside of detention requiring care. With that, significant amounts of time and efforts have been spent by CSOs to fund the bails for these individuals. DCY has also been receptive to the co-management with CSOs on some of those cases.
In the process of expediting measures, APRRN has diligently addressed and furnish diplomats with frequent updates for further intergovernmental advocacy action. This successfully resulted in several diplomatic missions actively pursuing the matter with the government of Thailand. For a sustainable and long-term solution, APRRN will continue advocating for a credible national screening mechanism to effectively identifies those in need of protection under international law, providing them with a legal status.

 

SOUTH ASIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM

12-13 JANUARY 2019

Newsletter - UNHCR-NGO Consultations

Human rights activists from across South Asia met in Colombo, Sri Lanka for a ‘Meeting of Regional Networks to Develop a Regional Agenda for Collective Advocacy on Human Rights, Peace and Democracy’, a forum organised by the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), SAHR is a regional network committed to addressing human rights issues at both national and regional levels. The primary purpose of this meeting is to gather regional stakeholders together to discuss a collective response to the deepening crisis of democracy and human rights across South Asia.

Newsletter - UNHCR-NGO Consultations

APRRN was represented at the meeting by Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones from the Secretariat and Lakshan Dias from the South Asian Network for Refugees, IDPs and Migrants (SANRIM). As part of the conference proceedings, both Evan and Lakshan presented on the situation for refugees and forcibly displaced persons across South Asia. Other items raised in the meeting include the need to reenergise the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the difficulties of actualising a true South Asian regionalism, and potential opportunities for greater collaboration.

The Civil Society Declaration for Revitalizing South Asian Regional Cooperation can be found here.

 

ADVOCACY FOR THE RELEASE OF HAKEEM AL-ARAIBI

NOVEMBER 2018 TO JANUARY 2019

Hakeem al-Araibi is a Bahraini national who sought asylum in 2014 and was granted refugee status in Australia. He was arrested on arrival when he came to Bangkok in November 2018 for his honeymoon. Hakeem was detained under an erroneous Interpol Red Notice issued by Bahrain and was subsequently incarcerated in the Bangkok Remand Prison for 76 days.

As part of the vast coalition of actors from across the world lobbying for Hakeem’s release, APRRN worked tirelessly to raise the profile of this case. APRRN partnered with former Australian football captain, Craig Foster to actively inform global media organisations with updates and pushed the agenda forward for high-level advocacy together with other activists. APRRN’s Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones facilitated the communication and visits with diplomatic missions in Bangkok, local human rights organisations, government officials and other key stakeholders.

On 11 February, persistence in advocacy on a global scale yielded positive result. The Thai prosecutors dropped the case proceedings as Bahrain withdrew the extradition request. Hakeem al-Araibi was released from prison and returned to friends and family in Melbourne. Hakeem has since been able to return to his career as a professional footballer at Pascoe Vale Football Club.

Newsletter - Asia Regional CSO Consultation

The APRRN Secretariat would like to highly commend and thank APRRN members: Amnesty International Australia and the Refugee Council of Australia for their unwavering commitment to the cause. Such dedicated members within the network, relentlessly driving issues and solutions forward when they arise have greatly contributed to the core of APRRN as a network in advancing refugee rights. A full overview of Hakeem’s story can be found here.

Newsletter - Asia Regional CSO Consultation

 

THAILAND SIGNS THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING TO END IMMIGRATION DETENTION OF CHILDREN

21 JANUARY 2019

The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Prawit Wongsuwan and seven Thai government agencies assembled at the Parliament House for the signing of the “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Determination of Measures and Approaches Alternative to Detention of Children in Immigration Detention Centres”, marking a momentous day for the protection of children on the move in the country and the region.

Newsletter - Next Gen

Thailand first expressed its commitment to ending child detention in September 2016 at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York, followed by the development of a draft regulation for a refugee-screening mechanism. APRRN, together with a few other national CSOs have since initiated dialogues and engaged in consultations with relevant government agencies to support the commitment made.

Newsletter - I4C 6

The MOU serves as an important guideline for the different government agencies and determine clear mechanisms to ensure the protection of the rights of a child within the parameters of the Thailand’s domestic law and its international obligation. Detention will now be a measure of last resort, prioritising the best interests of the child. It also affirms government’s obligation in ensuring that children would principally remain under their family’s care and should only be transferred into privately run shelters or government custody as an alternative measure. Despite the remaining gaps, APRRN regards this as a progressive development by the Thai government, and exemplary model for the region.

 

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL MEDIA AWARDS 2018

24 JANUARY 2019

Amnesty International Thailand organised the annual “Media Awards for Human Rights”, acknowledging the important role of media for human rights, and giving recognition to agencies and individuals who have been notably outspoken, courageously highlighting issues in promoting human rights to the general public and significantly contributed as informants. It was a convention of entities who were interested in the protection and promotion of rights, such as journalists, diplomats, civil society organisations. The event also served as a platform to motivate and encourage the media to continue championing human rights as a discourse.

Newsletter - I4C 6

Somchai Homla-or, an adviser to Amnesty International Thailand, gave his welcome address and officiated the event with the presentation of postcards from supporters to three distinct women human rights defenders, namely Angkhana Neelaphaijit who campaigned to stop enforced disappearance in Thailand, Pinnapa Prueksapan, a wife of a human rights lawyer who vanished in 2004, and Sirikarn Charoensiri who is a dedicated human rights lawyer.

A local actor, known for his philanthropic contributions to asylum seekers in Thailand, shared his journey and presented a short reflection on ‘When the Media Let Our Voices be Heard’. Sakda Kaewbuadee supports refugee families using his personal earnings and is no stranger to threats from Thai authorities for actions deemed as ‘feeding the illegals’.


“Thailand is made up of nationalists. I helped them because I see them as humans. I do not identify with colour or race”

Professor Vivit Muntarbhorn, former UN Special Rapporteur and the first UN Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity proceeded shortly with the award presentation ceremony. The four media award categories were: print media, online media, television (long reports), and television (short reports). The list of winners can be viewed here. A few of the noteworthy recipients include Krungthep Thurakit for their story on “Urban Detainees and Refugees 101” and Thai PBS for their report entitled “The Rohingya Exodus”.

Amnesty International also campaigned for Hakeem al-Araibi during the event.

 

APRRN IN THE MEDIA


FRANCE
‘Thaïlande: Soutien du CIO à un footballeur bahreïni détenu depuis novembre’

GERMANY
‘Thailand promises to end detention of child refugees’

HONG KONG
‘He is free’: refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi heads home to Australia after Bahrain drops extradition bid and Thailand releases him’

MALAYSIA
‘UN urged to suspend Myanmar return plan for Chin amid unrest’

THAILAND
‘Don’t send me to Bahrain!’: Hakeem al-Araibi fights extradition’
‘อย่าขวางโลก?’
‘นายกฯ ออสเตรเลีย ‘ตื้นตัน’ ความสัมพันธ์ 2 ชาติ ช่วยกรณี ‘ฮาคีม’ จบด้วยดี’
‘Two refugees, two different outcomes’

UNITED STATES
‘Global push to free Bahrain soccer player in Thailand after extradition request issued’

UNITED KINGDOM
‘Hakeem al-Araibi: power, politics, football and the will of the people’
‘Saudi Runaway’s Plight Puts Thailand’s Record of Failing Asylum Seekers in the Spotlight’

For enquiries, please contact Rachel at rachel@aprrn.info.

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