A discussion on access to justice in Southeast Asia was undertaken by a panel of women lawyers on 29 March 2017 at the Asia Centre. The session, jointly organised by Asia Centre and Akin Asia, offered the opportunity to understand some of the systemic problems with regards to rule of law and access to justice that affect women in the region. It was also an opportunity to better understand the roles that different players in the legal process play. The event was attended by over 30 participants, many with a legal background, keen to engage with the panel of top female legal professionals.
Celebrating Women in Law featured Emi Rowse, an Of Counsel at Herbert Smith Freehills; Sheila Varadan, a barrister/solicitor with over 12 years experience; Chayanich Thamparipattra, a social entrepreneur and a labour rights lawyer and Wipanan (Eve) Prasompluem, a Senior Associate at Allen & Overy and adjunct lecturer at Chulalongkorn University. The discussion was led by Emma Day, a human rights lawyer and co-founder of the International Child Redress Project (ICRP), a new startup non-profit organisation which is aiming to improve access to remedies for child victims of sexual exploitation
The panelists discussed access to justice in the context of the domestic courts system and the international human rights framework. They shared their personal experience as well as expert opinion during the lively Q&A. The discussion touched on a range of issues including:
- Challenges to rule of law and a culture of impunity in many parts of Southeast Asia
- Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms
- Transitional justice
- Creating a culture where the notion of justice and the rights of the victim are valued
- Improvements in the law to enable access to justice
The Q&A was followed by a networking session in which participants were able to interact with the panelists and further their discussions. Celebrating Women in Law was a platform to engage on critical issues impacting the region and showcase the role that women play advocating for justice.
Asia Centre has organised a number of activities related to women’s rights such as Entering Femininity: Reporting Rituals and Violations and women’s political participation in A Political Utopia Called Singapore. The Centre will continue to convene activities on the role of women in law, human rights and development as a prelude to developing an Asia Centre gender programme.