Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions
5 to 7 May 2009
CONCLUSIONS OF THE WORKSHOP ON THE ROLE OF NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS IN THE PROMOTION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE YOGYAKARTA PRINCIPLES
The workshop consisted of the representatives of nine APF member institutions:
- the host institution: the National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia
- the chair and deputy chairs of the APF: the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Jordan National Centre for Human Rights, and
- one member from each APF sub-region: the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (South Asia sub-region), the New Zealand Human Rights Commission (Pacific sub-region), the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (West Asia sub-region), the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (North Asia sub-region) and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (South East Asia sub-region).
The workshop adopted these Conclusions :
1. The workshop affirms without qualification that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
2. The workshop strongly deplores all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatisation, prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever they occur.
3. The workshop accepts that national human rights institutions that comply with the Paris Principles have a broad mandate to promote and protect the human rights of all persons, on the basis of equality and without discrimination, and that this mandate extends to those who suffer human rights violations based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
4. The workshop acknowledges that in accordance with the Paris Principles national human rights institutions have many functions that would contribute to the promotion and protection of the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, including monitoring compliance with international human rights treaty and domestic human rights law, investigation of complaints of violation of human rights, national inquiries into systemic patterns of human rights violation, human rights education, review of laws and raising awareness of human rights and human rights obligations.
5. The workshop recognises the significant work that many national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific region have already done to promote and protect the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, through the exercise of their functions.
6. The workshop recognises with deep concern that in the Asia Pacific region people continue to experience violations of human rights on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Violations in the region include arbitrary execution, extra judicial killing, rape, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary detention, inhuman detention, unfair trial and lack of due process. The violations also include rape of women for the purpose of changing their sexual orientation, forced pregnancy and forced marriage. They include deprivation of the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression, the right to education, the right to work, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to an adequate standard of living and rights relating to citizenship and legal recognition. They occur at the hands of State officials and authorities and at the hands of non-State actors, often with the actual or implied complicity of State actors and often with impunity.
7. The workshop recognises also that these violations of human rights on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity are compounded by discrimination on other grounds including gender, race and ethnicity, age, religion, health, disability and economic status.
8. The workshop acknowledges that those who defend the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity often suffer human rights violations because of their work as human rights defenders. Members and staff of national human rights institutions can also suffer human rights violations because of their work on these issues. Human rights defenders require promotion, protection and defence of their rights.
9. The workshop is aware that in all countries religious, cultural and moral values and sensitivities may arise in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The workshop respects everyone’s right to freedom of religion and belief. The workshop recognises that, exercising that human right, people have different religious and cultural beliefs in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and different personal moralities. The workshop affirms that the expression of religious and other beliefs may not violate the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others.
10. The workshop welcomes with appreciation the Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (the Yogyakarta Principles) as a critical component for the work of national human rights institutions on human rights issues in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.
11. The workshop encourages national human rights institutions to respond to the recommendation to them in the Yogyakarta Principles to ‘promote respect for these Principles by State and non-State actors, and integrate into their work the promotion and protection of the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities’. The workshop also encourages national human rights institutions to promote respect for the Principles by civil society.
12. The workshop recognised that this was the first occasion on which some national human rights institutions had discussed these issues and welcomed the opportunity to consider country specific and expert reports. It also recognised that the national human rights institutions are at different points in relation to them. Having discussed and considered appropriate responses to the recommendation in the Yogyakarta Principles and the role of national institutions in relation to promotion and implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles, the workshop encourages NHRIs to respond to the recommendation and considers that appropriate responses could include:
a. recognising persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as groups that are vulnerable to human rights violations
b. ensuring that persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are groups included in the national human rights institution’s human rights work
c. disseminating and promote the Yogyakarta Principles, especially to those whose rights they affirm, including in local languages
d. monitoring the enjoyment of human rights by persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities
e. providing forums and other mechanisms through which the national human rights institution can consult and collaborate with persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in the work of the promotion and protection of human rights
f. ensuring that the national human rights institution’s complaints mechanisms are accessible to those who suffer human rights violations on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity
g. undertaking research, including through inquiries and consultation with persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, to identify the nature and incidence of human rights violations in the country based on sexual orientation and gender identity
h. on the basis of that research, developing programs and projects that address human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including by providing human rights education and information about remedies for human rights violations and including persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in outreach programs
i. reviewing existing laws and recommending law reform to remove provisions that violate human rights on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and to enact provisions that ensure protection and promotion of the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, including by prohibiting discrimination on these grounds and
j. promoting the consideration of human rights issues in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity at the international level, including through inclusion of these issues where relevant in reports to treaty monitoring bodies, Special Procedures, the Universal Periodic Review and the Human Rights Council and by encouraging governments to support serious discussion of these issues in international human rights forums.
13. The workshop request the Asia Pacific Forum and its Secretariat to:
a. distribute the Conclusions to all APF member institutions
b. establish a webpage on its website for information and exchange on issues and work in relation to human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity, including the reports, papers and Conclusions of this workshop
c. facilitate the exchange of information among member institutions on their work on human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender diversity
d. assist member institutions to increase the knowledge and awareness of human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, including through training programs and staff exchanges
e. include in the Secretariat’s workplan follow up to this workshop through a project to assist member institutions in their work on human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity
f. develop and provide a reference to the Advisory Council of Jurists to review and advise whether laws in States whose national human rights institutions are members of the APF are consistent with international human rights law in their application in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and what amendments to existing laws or what new laws are required to ensure consistency, with a report to be made for discussion at the APF’s 15th Annual Meeting in 2010 and
g. include the Yogyakarta workshop as an agenda item for APF 15 in 2010 and invite each APF member institution to provide a report on its activities in relation to human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity at that meeting.