Asia Centre and Destination Justice Sign MOU

Asia Centre and  Destination Justice signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 4 July 2021. This MoU marks the start of the organisations’ collaboration on Thailand related projects, starting in 2021 and builds on 5 year of prior cooperation on regional issues.

On 28 July 2021, Asia Centre and Destination Justice, together with other partners filed a submission: “Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests During Crisis Situations” to the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Assembly and of Association. The submission draws attention to the protection of human rights activists and protesters in the context of crisis and emergency situations and the ensuing limitations to freedom of movement.

The submission follows an op-ed “Thailand faces the spotlight on human rights”  which was published in the Bangkok Post on 23 July 2021. In that piece both Asia Centre and Destination Justice highlighted the human rights situation of activists and protesters in Thailand, particularly to the very stringent bail conditions they were being subjected to.

Earlier on 23 February 2021, Asia Centre contributed and co-sponsored a joint UPR Submission together with Destination Justice, “Human Rights Defenders and Fundamental Freedoms in Thailand” on 24 March 2021.  The submission focuses on human rights defenders (HRDs) ranging from first-time protesters through to seasoned human rights advocates. The submission details how fundamental freedoms have been eroded in Thailand, particularly under the COVID-19 related emergency rule.

In the Thai pipeline is a briefing note on the proposed Thai Supporting and Promoting Civil Society Organisation Act (SPCSO) and Law on Operations of Non-for-profit Organisation (LONGO), both aim to strengthen government control over local, regional and international CSOs and NGOs. Asia Centre and Destination Justice plan to study these laws and assess their alignment with international standards.

 This MoU also formalizes pre-existing collaboration between the two organizations:

In  August 2019, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez met with Doreen Chen, Director of Destination Justice, met on the sidelines of the International Conference on Protection of Rohingya Survivors and Accountability for Genocide at Sogang University, South Korea. Thereafter, both organisations were part of a coalition that drew attention to and called for the boycott of businesses that collaborate with the Myanmar military.

However cooperation between the two organisations began in 2016, when Céline Martin, then Destination Justice’s Litigation Program Coordinator based in Cambodia, participated in the Centre’s 1st International Conference of Asia Centre: Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Southeast Asia, An Evidence-Based Regional Assessment. Ms. Martin subsequently participated as a speaker for Asia Centre’s 2nd and 3rd International Conferences on National human rights Mechanisms in Southeast Asia: Challenges of Protection (2017) and Business and human rights: Holding Governments Accountable in Asia (2018).

Moving from the 3 international conferences in Bangkok, Destination Justice and Asia Centre had extended their collaboration into Cambodia on the Universal Periodic Review by co-convening a seminar entitled “Advocating for human rights in Cambodia: Is the Universal Periodic Review Effective?” on 3 November 2018, at the National University of management in  Phnom Penh. On the occasion of the seminar, Asia Centre released its first book: The Universal Periodic Review of Southeast Asia: Civil Society Perspectives, in which Destination Justice has authored one chapter.

Asia Centre signs MOUs with organisations with whom it has a track record of cooperation.The Centre has several ongoing MOUs with INGOs, NGOs, universities and parliamentary networks.