Welcome to the second 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 email@example.com.
- The Secretariat Welcomes New Team Members
- Forum-Asia Campaign Accelerator Training
- ICVA Annual General Meeting
NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY
- Forced Displacement in South Asia Event
- Thailand: ‘End Child Detention’ Scorecard Workshop
- Indonesia: Rohingya Working Group Jakarta Outreach Trip
- Global Refugee Forum: Preparatory Meeting
- Expert Regional Consultation on The Draft Comparative Study: Protection of Rohingya Refugees in South and Southeast Asia
- High-Level Dialogue in Human Rights In ASEAN: Assessing the 10 Years Of AICHR
- Regional Preparatory Meeting for the High-Level Segment on Statelessness
- APRRN in the Media
APRRN welcomed two individuals on board the Secretariat team the past few months.
“I come from Malaysia. I started working with refugees in 2008 with SUARAM in Malaysia, focusing on refugee rights advocacy on the national, regional and international level. While in SUARAM, I was elected as Co-Coordinator (2009/2010) of the Migration Working Group (MWG), a national network of NGOs and academics advocating for the rights of refugees and migrants. I assisted in organising the first APCRR in 2008, held in Kuala Lumpur. I was elected Chair of the Southeast Asia Working Group for the term 2009/2010. In my last position, I worked with the Child Protection Unit in UNHCR Malaysia for more than 3 years. Apart from refugee work, I have previously worked on electoral reform advocacy in Malaysia and a small project on Violence Against Women.
I will be acting as the Secretariat focal point for APRRN’s Rohingya work over the next 12 months, supporting the Rohingya Working Group and the Chair Lilianne Fan and the Deputy Chair, Chris Lewa. I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org”
APRRN also would like to take the opportunity to thank Hal Crichton-Standish who joined us as an intern. Hal hails from Sydney, Australia, and graduated from the University of Sydney in 2018. As an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s New Colombo Plan Scholar, Hal has been living and working in Asia as part of the programme since August 2018. Prior to Thailand, Hal was in Hong Kong and the Thailand chapter of his programme allowed him to be with the APRRN Secretariat for a period of two months from April to June 2019. We would like to thank Hal for his contributions and friendship, and we wish him the very best for his future endeavours.
27-28 FEBRUARY 2019
Several APRRN members from across South Asia attended the ‘Summit on Forced Displacement in South Asia’, an event organised by the Women’s Regional Network (WRN) and hosted by the International Women’s Rights Action Watch, Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The summit was represented by APRRN members from India, Priyanca Mathur Velath and Sahana Basavapatna, along with Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones from the Secretariat.
The Summit brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from across the region including those from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia. The event was designed with three core principles in mind: expressing a need for visibility and accountability and stressing why gender matters; augmenting the engagement of key stakeholders that can influence debates and policy; and to facilitate a South Asia call-for-action on gender in the protection and rights of internally displaced persons (IDP).
The major discussions throughout the multi-stakeholder summit was built upon WRN’s research on forcibly displaced women and girls IDP’s and refugees. There were conversations around the gaps in policy and practice, zooming into the specific vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls. The Summit concluded with a Statement of Principles that can be found here.
7 MARCH 2019
APRRN, together with Fortify Rights, Asylum Access Thailand, the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons co-organised a scorecard workshop on ‘Ending Child Detention’. The scorecard is a comparative tool used to assess States on their progress towards ending child immigration detention. The Index uses a standard scoring framework to identify the key factors that ensure national migration management systems are sensitive to the needs of children, and avoid detention.
This initiative is based on the ‘Ending Child Detention’ Scorecard launched by the International Coalition for Detention (IDC) under their Global Campaign to End Child Detention. IDC is a key actor in this global campaign. They actively collaborated and coordinated with CSOs when it was introduced in Thailand. The scorecard Thailand committee was set up in November 2017 with members comprising of APRRN, Coalition for the Rights of Refugees, Stateless Persons (CRSP), Fortify Rights and Save the Children.
On 14-15 December 2017, Fortify Rights organised a consultation with 27 people from 16 CSOs. This was followed by a consultation with government representatives from Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ministry of Public Health, National Human Rights Commission, Department of Children and Youth, Office of Attorney General, Royal Thai Police, Operation Center for Displaced Persons to discuss the results of the scorecard as well as to get feedback for a better improvement of the issues in the future.
On 7 March 2019, the country committee organised annual assessment on end child detention scorecard to follow up what Thailand has been done so far regarding end child detention. There were 17 participants from 12 CSOs who participated in this event. The participants were separated into 2 groups to look through the same questionnaire used in 2017. They provide constructive feedback, suggesting useful changes in scores. The feedback from each group were hence discussed in the panel. The initial score in 2017 for Thailand was 30 out of 100. The total score increased from 30 to 32.
In addition that that, there was also the signing of MOU on the Determination of Measures and Approaches Alternative to Detention of Children in Immigration Detention Centers on 21 January 2019. This was the main reason behind the development of the scorecard. The scorecard report will be used to advocate with the government agencies.
18-22 MARCH 2019
A small APRRN delegation, led by the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Rohingya Working Group embarked on an outreach trip to Jakarta, Indonesia in March. The delegation was also joined by Rachel Reilly from Oxfam International and Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones from the Secretariat.
Meetings were held throughout the week with a variety of key stakeholders which includes as the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Representative of Thailand to ASEAN, Embassies of Canada, European Union, the United States of America, Australia and the United Kingdom, Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM), UNHCR, independent experts, and civil society members. The meetings provided the space for APRRN to raise concerns regarding the current situation for Rohingya refugees in Myanmar and the precarious situation in Bangladesh.
Several key stakeholders expressed their interest in receiving further information of the on-going situation faced by Rohingya refugees in the two countries and more broadly across the region. APRRN is committed to continuing to build relationships with a wide range of stakeholders across ASEAN, and will continue to engage with key partners and interlocutors in Indonesia in the months and years ahead.
The Civil Society Declaration for Revitalizing South Asian Regional Cooperation can be found here.
States from across the world are anticipating the first Global Refugee Forum December of this year. To be held at the Palais des Nations, this historic event will provide an opportunity for nations to discuss a range of issues and strategies pertinent to developing greater refugee protection. Discussion topics such as responsibility sharing, education, jobs and livelihoods, energy and infrastructure, solutions and protection capacity will be touched upon.
In preparation of the Global Refugee Forum, UNHCR is hosting a series of preparatory meetings in Geneva, providing an opportunity to discuss the pledging process and other key modalities. On 29 March, the first of these preparatory meetings was held with state actors, civil society representatives and refugees attending the discussions. APRRN was represented by the Programme Coordinator from the Secretariat, and members from Australia, namely Arash Bordbar and Shukufa Tahiri (representing the Refugee Council of Australia).
The meeting covered a range of topics, providing states and other stakeholders the opportunity to gather clarity around the modalities and purpose of the Global Refugee Forum. The agenda covered important areas on ‘Organisational arrangements for the Global Refugee Forum’, ‘Draft indicators for progress towards the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees’, and ‘Areas of focus for the pledging process and the sharing of good practices for the first Global Refugee Forum’. Background documents about the meeting can be found here.
The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) issued two statements responding to Agenda Item 2 and 3 on ‘Draft indicators for progress towards the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees’ and thematic priorities for the pledging process and the sharing of good practices.
The second preparatory meeting will be held on 25 June 2019 in Geneva, just prior to the Annual UNHCR-NGO Consultations.
26-28 MARCH 2019
ICVA members from across the globe gathered in Geneva to attend the ICVA Annual Conference which was designed as a key opportunity for ICVA members to convene and discuss issues pertinent to the humanitarian sector. This years’ conference had 29 speakers sharing their perspectives with almost 200 participants from 126 organisations based in over 40 countries in the Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Central and North America and the Middle East and North African regions. APRRN was represented at the conference by members from across the region including COAST Trust, and PHALS from Bangladesh as well as Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones.
Conversations in the conference primarily revolved around the commitments made through the World Humanitarian Summit, the Grand Bargain, the New York Declarations, and the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration. Participants evaluated ways in which these commitments could be translated into action. Discussions around localisation featured heavily, as did dialogues around the need for more diverse funding, particularly from the philanthropic sector.
Over the course of the three days, participants had ample opportunity to share and explore country-specific experiences, debate what support functions are needed action these commitments and to raise issues for contribution to broader policy debates.
The conference note for the conference can be found here. For those interested in receiving further information about the work of ICVA both regionally and internationally, please contact the ICVA Asia Regional Representative Jeremy Wellard at email@example.com.
EXPERT REGIONAL CONSULTATION ON THE DRAFT COMPARATIVE STUDY: PROTECTION OF ROHINGYA REFUGEES IN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
16-18 APRIL 2019
The Refugee Solidarity Network (RSN), an APRRN member, in collaboration with the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), held an expert regional consultation on the draft of their comparative research study on the national protection frameworks available in six major host countries for Rohingyas in Asia. 28 participants from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia participated in the consultation. APRRN was represented by Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones; Rohingya Consultant, Temme Lee; Chair of the Rohingya Working Group, Lilianne Fan; and Brian Barbour, an active member of APRRN. Other APRRN members from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia participated in the consultation as panellists, resource persons and moderators.
The first two days of the event saw the presentation of a summary of the research findings, in-depth discussion on the situation for refugees in each of the six countries, comparative analysis, and discussion on advocacy strategies and opportunities. Throughout all discussions, it was evident that a key commonality was that: despite the fact that the six host countries have not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and have no domestic legal framework for refugees, discretion has often been employed in the existing legal framework to the advantage of refugee protection. On the final day of the consultation, APRRN organised a consultation with local Rohingya refugees to understand the strategies refugees employ in navigating the absence of legal framework for refugee protection in Malaysia and to understand what they viewed as advocacy priorities. Following the consultation with the refugee community, a roundtable discussion was held on the efforts of the newly formed Law and Policy Group in Malaysia, which is advocating for policy changes for the protection of the rights of refugee.
RSN will incorporate the discussions in the consultation into their comparative research study, which will be finalised by September 2019. It is hoped that the research will assist civil society organisations in their advocacy strategies.
2-3 MAY 2019
Forum-Asia organised a 2-day Campaign Accelerator Training, which is a workshop that blends high-performing campaign strategy tools that engages people meaningfully, with methods inspired by design thinking. The training was attended by APRRN’s Programme Associate, Rachel Tan. The training methodology of the training was adopted from the model created by Mobilisation Lab (MobLab) purposed to build creative and transformative advocacy campaigns. MobLab is an organisation that consists of a group of campaigners with experience across the world in public campaigning and mobilisation.
The training is well-structured with practical exercises to strategically plan campaign projects for effective change. Participants were able to create their own campaign for identified areas of interests. The methodologies employed throughout the course are people-focused; putting communities at the heart of advocacy efforts. Visual templates, methods and group exercises are utilised to enhance the collaborative planning process. Learning tools were also introduced to help design and formulate initial ideas for an actual campaign.
In conjunction with the World Press Freedom Day on the 3 May 2019, Forum-Asia also invited interested participants to contribute to a short video clip featuring human rights defenders working on press freedom and freedom of expression as an awareness raising intiative.
8-9 MAY 2019
On 9 May 2019, APRRN’s Programme Coordinator Evan Jones attended the ‘High-Level Dialogue in Human Rights in ASEAN: Assessing the 10 years of AICHR’ in Jakarta, Indonesia. Co-organised by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the event provided an opportunity for hard-hitting discussions between human rights experts, thought leaders, political figures, civil society organisations, activists, practitioners, and academics. Moreover, the event also provided a space for attendees to critically analyse how to create additional protection spaces within the AICHR, including via amendments to the ToR and other mechanisms.
Throughout the event, it was evident that that the AICHR had failed to live up to the expectations that were created at its inception in 2009. It was noted that despite a significant expenditure of funds, the ASEAN region as a whole was yet to witness any tangible change for the rights and protections of citizens in these countries. This includes an utter failure to adequately address, or even raise, such flagrant abuses as the Rohingya genocide, extra-judicial killings, shrinking of civic space and fundamental freedom of expression.
APRRN looks forward to continuing to work with our regional partners including FORUM-Asia, SAPA, APHR and independent AICHR representatives to not only strengthen the refugee protection regime, but to address the human rights concerns for all individuals across ASEAN.
30-31 MAY 2019
From 30-31 May, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosted the ‘Regional Preparatory Meeting for the High-Level Segment on Stateless’ in Bangkok, Thailand. Supported by the Royal Thai Government, the two-day event brought together government officials from sixteen countries across the region, providing an opportunity to review developments and share best practices since the inception of UNHCR’s ‘iBELONG Campaign’. In addition, the event also provided an opportunity for states to explore possible cross-border collaboration opportunities that could be used to address current challenges that result in prolonged statelessness.
APRRN was represented at the meeting by Programme Coordinator Evan Jones. Other notable non-governmental attendees included various UN agencies, several AICHR representatives, and a range of National Human Rights Institutions from across ASEAN.
Marking the halfway point in UNHCR’s 2014-2024 iBELONG Campaign, the meeting also provided an opportunity for states to begin considering pledges that could be made at the 7 October High-Level Segment Meeting that will occur in Geneva, Switzerland. Some of the draft pledges flagged by states included; moves towards accession of the 1954 and 1961 conventions, removal of reservations under CRC, have safeguards for foundlings, develop Statelessness Determination Procedures, creating National Action Plans to eliminate statelessness, increase awareness raising, increase awareness and provide support to Pacific neighbors.
Stateless persons, regardless of whether of not they are also forcibly displaced, are denied access to a range of fundamental human rights. This includes inability to access birth registration, accessing travel documents, receiving access to healthcare, obtaining gainful employment, and fully participating in the economic and social elements of society.
• ‘Refugees Can Make Contributions to Host Communities’
• ‘5·18 기념재단 광주아시아포럼···‘학살과 난민’ (May 18 Memorial Foundation: Gwangju Asia Forum on Massacre and Refugees)
• ‘Expert: UNHCR’s Chin Refugee Policy Violates Its Own Guidelines’
• ‘More Support for Chin Community, Says Refugee Groups’
• ‘องค์กรผู้ลี้ภัยขอไทยปล่อยผู้ลี้ภัยเด็กดาวน์ซินโดรมโซมาเลียที่ถูกกัก 5 เดือน’ (Refugee Organisations Requesting Thailand to Release Refugee Children: Somali with Down Syndrome Detained for 5 months)
• ‘ผู้ลี้ภัยโซมาเลียที่เป็นดาวน์ซินโดรม ถูกกักตัวในไทยกว่า 5 เดือน’ (
Somali refugees with Down syndrome Detained in Thailand for more than 5 months)
• ‘Why Hakeem Al-Araibi Matter’
• ”I was crying inside’: Melbourne soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi on the bungle that landed him in a Thai jail’
• ‘Refugee Rights Must Be Respected’
• ‘Bangladesh Seeks Relocation of Rohingyas to Uninhabited Island’
• ‘Bahrain: where tweeting can land you in jail’
For enquiries, please contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.