SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE

Welcome to APRRN’s third newsletter for the year! With a relatively hectic past few months, this newsletter contains updates on all the important work of our members and some of the key opportunities with which we’ve been engaged. Read below for updates on our engagement with international processes, regional meetings, trainings and other member support.

If you have any questions or comments please email Evan at Evan@aprrn info.

1. APRRN Events and Activities:

  • National Symposium on Ending Violence Against Children in the Justice System and an International Workshop on Diversion Through Restorative Justice (June 2017)
  • Innovation for Change: East Asia Mid-Year Review & Planning Meeting (August 2017)
  • Meeting between Child Rights and Refugee Rights Groups in Thailand (September 2017)

2. International Advocacy:

  • Global Conference on Children on the Move (June 2017)
  • UNHCR Annual Consultations with Non-Governmental Organisations (June 2017)
  • Global Forum on Migration and Development (June 2017)
  • First Thematic Consultation for the Global Compact on Refugees (July 2017)
  • Asia Regional Civil Society Consultation for the Global Compact on Migration (August 2017)
  • Responding to the Rohingya Crisis (August / September 2017)

3. OF INTEREST:

  • APRRN in the Media
  • APRRN Secretariat Staff Updates
  • APRRN’s New Office Location
  • Upcoming Events

APRRN Events and Activities

National Symposium on Ending Violence Against Children in the Justice System and an International Workshop on Diversion Through Restorative Justice (June 2017)

From 26 – 28 June 2017, the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection in Thailand, UNICEF, Thailand Institute of Justice and others held a National Symposium on Ending Violence Against Children in the Justice System and an International Workshop on Diversion Through Restorative Justice. The focus of the events was two-fold; to define current global strategies to safeguard the rights of children and youth in conflict with the law and to inform participants on the juvenile justice global perspectives and training them in implementing models and best practices to end all forms of violence against children and youth.

APRRN together with Save the Children Thailand (STC-T) were invited to give a presentation on the joint report “Unlocking Childhood. Current immigration detention practices and alternatives for child asylum seekers and refugees in Asia and the Pacific”. The event provided an opportunity to present the extensive research conducted on the practices of child immigration detention in the region, examples of legal and regulatory provisions in other countries against the practice and viable alternatives to detaining children based on their citizenship or migration status.

Representatives of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and ProtScreen Shot 2017-09-20 at 2.10.37 PMection of Women and Children also attended the 4-day event, allowing STC-T and APRRN to present its research and recommendations for ending the harmful practice of detaining asylum seeker and refugee children. STC-T and APRRN’s presentation fed into the aim of the national symposium and workshop to carry best practices through to the domestic level and strengthening the coordination of stakeholders in regional ASEAN mechanisms to advocate for the improvement of legal frameworks in juvenile justice.

To cap off the joint presentation STC-T and APRRN showed the video “Unlocking Childhood. Voices of refugee and asylum seeker children in South East Asia” which reflects children’s experience of being detained in Southeast Asia. The video can be viewed here.

Innovation for Change: East Asia Mid-Year Review and Planning Meeting (August 2017)

From 29 – 31 August 2017, APRRN attended the Innovation for Change – East Asia Mid-year Review Planning Meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Innovation for Change – East Asia is one of six regional hubs led at the global level by Civicus Alliance and Counterpart International, the purpose of the hubs is to provide virtual and real spaces for civil society to co-design and create ideas and projects towards strengthening citizen engagement and accountable governance through defending, expanding and creating civic space in the region.

The three-Day Mid-Year Review/Planning Meeting brought together 40 participants from different countries of East Asia, regional networks, the Innovation for Change East Asia incubators and hub team. During the 3 days the participants scanned the civic space terrain, examined and discussed shrinking civic spaces and the challenges posed by the diminished civic spaces. On the first day APRRN gave a presentation on the latest trends regarding shrinking space and threats within the field of refugee rights and protection. The key issues and activities, developed in 2017 were reviewed and the event concluded with discussions of, and jointly identifying key priority issues within each sector to focus on in 2018.

Meeting between Child Rights and Refugee Rights Groups in Thailand (September 2017)

On 14-15 September, the International Detention Coalition (IDC), Save the Children and the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP) hosted a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was designed to bring together child rights and refugee rights NGOs with a specific focus on children in detention / alternatives to detention in Thailand. Over the course of the two days participants shared their experiences on particular challenges in advocating for alternatives to detention for children and their families.

Other topics of discussion were sharing of good practices from around the region, developing and implementing alternatives for children and their families, the importance of best interest determinations, case management and child safeguarding in the development and implementation of alternatives to detention, and international standards around family unity.

At the conclusion of the meeting there was consensus to pursue the goal of “children and care givers who are refugee and migrant should not be detained under immigration law”. Also, short, mid and longer-term strategies around advocating for an end to child immigration detention and alternatives to detention for children and their families were set. A report from the meeting will be forthcoming.

International Advocacy

Global Conference for Children in the Move (June 2017)

On the 12th and 13th of June, approximately 250 stakeholders from across the world converged in Berlin, Germany for the Global Conference on Children on the Move. Attended by a diverse range of participants including states, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector, the event was a unique opportunity to discuss and advocate for children on the move. In particular, the conference served as an opportunity to discuss the two Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants and how children’s concerns must be reflected in these documents. A number of APRRN members were present at the conference including the International Detention Coalition, Act for Peace, UNICEF Australia and Save the Children.

Over the course of the two days, attendees shared research, knowledge and best practices from their respective geographic contexts. In addition, there was also a strong emphasis highlighting current initiatives that are underway and discussions regarding possible solutions for children on the move and mitigation of risks for children in migratory contexts.

One of the main outcomes from the Children on the Move Conference was a working document titled “Child Rights in the Global Compacts: Recommendations for protecting, promoting and implementing the human rights of children on the move in the proposed Global Compacts.” The truncated version of the working document is available here.

UNHCR Annual Consultations With Non-Governmental Organisations (June 2017)

The UNHCR 2017 Annual Consultations with NGOs took place in June in Geneva, Switzerland during a time when more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced around the globe. The Consultations brought together more than 550 representatives from 300 organisations with an emphasis on the theme “CRRF – Putting the Pieces Together”. The overarching theme of this year’s UNHCR-NGO Consultations highlights the strong focus of UNHCR towards the development of the Global Compact on Refugees.

The agenda focused on some of the elements in the CRRF including the four key pillars, which include reception and admission, supporting immediate and ongoing needs, support for host countries and communities, and durable solutions. The discussions also focused on using the CRRF to operationalise a “whole-of-society” approach through operational partnerships and frameworks amongst states, international organisations, and national and international non-government organisations.

In addition to the usual sessions for the various regional bureaus, the agenda also featured thematic sessions on the following issues: statelessness in a displacement context, strengthened coordination for persons of concern, legal frameworks, joint commitments for refugees and migrants, refugee voices, resourcing the CRRF, the global compact and women and girls, conditions for safe return, and expanding resettlement. The agenda also featured a number of side events related to the main theme.

The APRRN Secretariat and many of its members have been attending the consultations since 2009. In a relatively short period, APRRN as a network has achieved high visibility, primarily due to the targeted and effective interventions and constructive dialogues with UNHCR at the consultations and beyond.  This year 60 APRRN members were present and actively involved as participants, moderators, note takers and panelists. APRRN also actively participated in the social media initiative and used Twitter to share discussions from the Consultations. APRRN’s Youth Working Group was represented by one youth currently in a refugee situation in Thailand. Other refugee delegates from the region came from Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Sri Lanka. Many of them have lived experiences in Asia (Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia).

In addition to attending the Consultations, APRRN Secretariat staff and members also used the opportunity to meet with UNHCR staff (the Asia Bureau and Volker Tuerk) as well as permanent missions of various countries including Malaysia, USA and Taiwan. APRRN was also present at several other side meetings such as the UNHCR RSD Retreat, Annual Roundtable on Strategic Litigation as well as the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR).

The full report of the UNHCR NGO Consultations can be found here.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (July 2017)

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 2.17.16 PMThe tenth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit was held in Berlin from 28 June – 1 July 2017 with the overarching theme of “Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development”. As in previous years, the event was broken up into two components i.e. the Civil Society Days and the Government Common Space Day. In short, the 2017 GFMD discussed the ‘Mechanisms’ of the Global Compact on Migration specially focusing upon policies, practices and programmes with a key focus on implementation, not simply restating rights or commitments. Furthermore, discussions progressed with debates around how to achieve safe, orderly and regular migration at local, national, regional and global levels.

The Common Space Day was well attended by government representatives and had a strong emphasis on the need for measurable implementation of the GCM. Unfortunately, returns and detention remained as sticking points with many States highlighting a justification for increased securitisation measures. Former APRRN Chair Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti was invited as a panelist to discuss ‘what does “Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” mean specifically in contexts of people compelled to flee across borders from conflict, persecution, and climate change or to join family?’

Over the course of the GFMD there was relative agreement from civil society representatives on a number of issues such as the need for firewalls in accessing justice and services, and a call to end child detention. There was also discussion about ensuring that the GCM does not ‘water-down’ current standards and discussion on whether it should be a binding instrument. Finally, there was a strong call for there to be coordination with the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and to ensure that mixed flows don’t fall between the two compacts.

More information and background papers on the GFMD CSD can be found here: www.madenetwork.org/civil-society-days-2017 and on the GFMD: www.gfmd.org

First Thematic Consultation for the Global Compact on Refugees (July 2017)

On 10 July 2017, APRRN’s Deputy Chair Lilianne Fan represented the network at the First Thematic Discussion for the Global Compact on Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. Titled ‘Past and current burden and responsibility-sharing arrangements’, the discussion provided a unique opportunity from stakeholders across the globe to input their voices into the global compact.

In preparation for the meeting, APRRN developed a briefing paper titled “Past and present responsibility-sharing arrangements for refugees in the Asia Pacific region”. This submission addressed matters directly flagged for consideration in the agenda for the first thematic discussion, with a particular focus on the responsibility-sharing arrangements that have been developed and implemented in the Asia Pacific region. These included the historic Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees (CPA) and the ongoing Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR). The paper can be accessed here: http://aprrn.info/briefing-paper-past-and-present-responsibility-sharing-arrangements-for-refugees-in-the-asia-pacific-region/

The conclusions and summary from the discussion can be found here.

Asia Regional Civil Society Consultation for the Global Compact on Migration (August 2017)

On 4-5 August 2017, APRRN in cooperation with Migrant Forum Asia and a number of other regional networks hosted the Asia Regional Civil Society Consultation (RCSC) on the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration. Held in Bangkok, Thailand, the consultation brought together more than 70 representatives from regional migrant rights organisations, trade unions, women, children and refugee rights organisations, and humanitarian organisations providing support and assistance for migrants and refugees.

The discussions in the Asia Civil Society Regional Consultation focused on 8 key themes i.e. Human Rights of Migrants, Children in the Context of Migration, Women, Decent Work, Participation & Mobilisation and Accountability, Return & Repatriation and Reintegration, Drivers of Migration, and Mixed Migration. During the consultation the participants discussed the key principles and recommended mechanisms in line with the 8 Key themes identified. The consultation was attended by Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, Sumitha Kishna Shaanti, Lilianne Fan and Evan Jones.

An Outcome Document from the consultation is currently being drafted and will be submitted to ESCAP in preparation for the November multi-stakeholder meeting. This document will be shared with the APRRN membership in due course.

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 8.47.09 PM

Responding to the Rohingya Crisis (August / September 2017)

As you all undoubtedly know, from 25 August 2017 there have been mass displacements of Rohingya refugees from Northern Rakhine State to Bangladesh. To date the number exceeds 400,000 people. In response to this crisis, APRRN formed an ad-hoc working group specifically focused upon the Rohingya. The idea was that this work group would help to better target and support APRRN’s advocacy around this issue. The Sub-WG has been and remain incredibly useful in helping us understand who is doing what in terms of advocacy and keeping everyone informed of the latest updates in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

To support these efforts, on 11 September 2017 APRRN together with FORUM-ASIA submitted a joint Briefing Paper to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights. The purpose of the submission was to provide the AICHR with a brief analysis of attacks on civilians and mass displacement of people within and from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The paper can be accessed here.

If you would like further information or would like to contribute to APRRN’s efforts please contact the Secretariat focal point at Sussi@aprrn.info

Of Interest

APRRN in the Media

TRT World – “Life in limbo: the refugee experience in Southeast Asia”

Hong Kong Free Press – “Can Taiwan pave the way for refugee protection in East Asia?”

Forced Migration Review – “The power of education in refugees’ lives: Sri Lankan refugees in India”

The Guardian UK – Child refugees held in ‘harrowing’ conditions across south-east Asia”

Bangkok Post – “End child detention, activists say”

Eglises D’Asie – Un avocat réputé contraint de se réfugier à l’étranger après avoir dénoncé l’intolérance religieuse”

The Cambodia Daily – “As Refugee Group Appeals to Gov’t, Montagnard Fears Future”

The Guardian – “Australia urged to stop Cambodia returning persecuted refugees to Vietnam”

APRRN Staff Updates

As many of you will know, APRRN’s Secretary General Julia Mayerhofer has recently commenced a period of Maternity Leave. We wish Julia all the best in this new chapter of her life and look forward to welcoming her back to APRRN towards the end of the year.

In the meantime, for any programme related issues please contact Evan Jones at Evan@aprrn.info. For any governance and finance related issues please contact Patcharin Nawichai at Patcharin@aprrn.info.

APRRN’s New Office

The APRRN Secretariat has recently relocated its Bangkok Office. We can now be found in Bangkok’s Sam Yan district just a short walk from Chulalongkorn University. Our full address details can be found on our website here.

Upcoming Events

September 20-21: UNHCR Standing Committee 70th Meeting, Geneva

October 2-6: UNHCR Executive Committee 68th Meeting, Geneva

October 17-18: UNHCR Thematic Discussions Two & Three for the Global Compact on Refugees

November 14-15: UNHCR Thematic Discussions Four & Five for the Global Compact on Refugees

November (27-30): APRRN Annual Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy, Bangkok, Thailand

December 12-13: High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, Geneva

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