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…

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Timor-Leste’s Problematic “Internet” Laws

Timor-Leste’s government must set out clearly defined steps in the drafting process of its legislation, including ensuring there are consistent and adequate opportunities for consultation with the country’s stakeholders. These concerns over inadequate consultation have arisen on the back of three proposed laws on defamation, cybercrime and privacy that stand to impact internet freedoms. The draft Criminal Defamation Law, proposed in June 2020, would reinstate criminal defamation in Timor-Leste’s Penal Code and provide an easy path to criminalise critical opinions against the state or its officials. The draft Cybercrime Law, proposed in January 2021, does not provide adequate protection to human…

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Securitisation of Health Protocols: Impact on Vulnerable Communities

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the Asian region have adopted (exceptional) health protocols to contain and arrest the spread of infections, and are now focusing on acquiring vaccines and rolling vaccination programmes. Many of the measures adopted have been characterised by a securitisation of health protocols and have either failed to address the specific needs of vulnerable communities, or worsened their already precarious conditions. To facilitate discussions on these trends, and identify avenues for positive change, on 18 June 2021 Asia Centre, Harm Reduction International (HRI) and UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases (UNITE) co-hosted…

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Timor Leste Risks Downgrading Freedoms With New Laws

Amidst recent pushback to protect internet freedoms, it remains to be seen if Timor-Leste will retain its high rankings in “freedoms” in the long-term, as the country seeks membership in ASEAN, a grouping whose freedom rankings exhibit a sharp decline. While the country ranks highly in terms of academic and press freedom, with internet freedom likely to be on a similar upward trajectory, access to the internet and emerging laws present a challenge.These were the broad assertions made during an online town hall titled “Timor-Leste: Internet Freedoms Under Threat” held on 4 June 2021 by Asia Centre to share its…

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Freedom of Expression A Fundamental Right

Academic, press and internet freedoms are a cluster of rights that form freedom of expression. To realise these rights, one must have access to accurate information and be able to express an opinion across platforms of one’s choice. This is a fundamental right and we can not allow it to be diluted by authoritarian governments who are increasingly challenging the universality of rights. To unpack these issues, Asia Centre, together with the May 18 Memorial Foundation, co-convened a panel, “Freedom of Expression and Democracy in Asia”. The event was held as part of the Gwangju Democracy Forum, and was hosted…

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Innovation Important to Overcome Media Hurdles

Media in the region are facing challenges both in terms of state censorship and financial sustainability. However, in almost all circumstances, innovation and improvisation were key to overcome these hurdles.“Celebrating Journalism: Reporting Without Fear” was held on 4 May 2021 to mark World Press Freedom Day. The event, Asia Centre partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Internews, EFDEA and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, was hosted online and live-streamed over social media (watch here). Frederic Spohr, Head of FNF Thailand and Myanmar, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, in his opening remarks stated that many journalists and news organisations are under increasing pressure from…

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Academic Freedoms Deteriorate As Autocracy Strengthens in Asia

Academic freedoms in Asia have deteriorated as autocracy strengthens across the region. However, in building resilience and fostering change, academic, press and internet freedoms need to be considered together as they form a cluster of rights that collectively make up freedom of expression.  This was the thrust of the interventions by speakers from Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia on 21 April 2021 when Asia Centre hosted the webinar, “Under Attack: Academic Freedoms in Asia”.  The event, which attracted over 150 participants and live-streamed over social media (watch here), was co-hosted with Lund University’s Centre for East and South-East Asian…

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Inequality Sharpens During Pandemic

Inequality sharpened during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among vulnerable communities in Asia. This was the principal theme in the stories of the 10 finalists which they shared during the 2020-21 Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award. You can watch the event here.  Top 10 journalists from Asia, whose articles made it to the final round, wrote how the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic affected workers in the informal sector. Already struggling under normal times, factory workers, home-based workers, sex workers, street vendors, transport workers—many of whom are women—suffered job losses and income deprivation leading to hardships.  Already leading precarious…

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Getting To The Other Side of the Myanmar Coup

Asia Centre’s webinar, “Law and Lawlessness: Myanmar Coup and Human Rights” on 11 March 2021 discussed the 1 February 2021 Myanmar military coup. The event attracted over 88 participants and gathered over 1,000 views during its live-streaming  (watch here). The one and a half hours discussion centred on strategies of “getting to the other side” -  that is, end the protracted violence. Thereafter, assuming the military gives in and is cooperative, initiate an inclusive political process to draft a new constitution. This whole process of “getting to the other side” might take 10 to 15 years, if not longer. Asia…

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Asia Centre and Oxfam Announce 2020-21 Journalism Award Finalists

Asia Centre and Oxfam in Asia are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2020-21 Journalism For an Equitable Asia Award.As thought leaders and creators, journalists have the skills and voice to expose social issues of the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia such as inequality, poverty and dysfunctional governance.Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award, co-hosted by  Asia Centre and Oxfam in Asia aims to recognize them and encourage more journalists to write for a fairer Asia.  Here are the finalists:Umar Bacha is a young journalist from Shangla, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. Currently associated with Dawn media group as a…

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