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Thailand backs Asean commission o


      Thailand backs Asean
      commission on rights

      THAILAND has expressed strong support
      for setting up the ''Asean Human Rights
      Commission'', which is consistent with the
      country's belief in promoting human rights,
      Foreign Ministry's spokesman Kobsak
      Chutikul said Tuesday. 

      Thailand would like to see a permanent
      regional mechanism on human rights to be
      established as soon as possible to
      promote regional cooperation on human
      rights, which is consistent with the
      objectives of the Asean Vision 2020,
      Kobsak said. 

      The issue was discussed during a meeting
      of senior Asean officials in the Philippines
      last week. Permanent secretary for foreign
      affairs Saroj Chavanaviraj represented
      Thailand at the meeting. 

      Kobsak quoted Saroj as telling the meeting
      that Thailand supported the establishment
      of the Asean Human Rights Commission
      as it was in line with its own political
      development and its belief in promoting
      greater participation and involvement of
      grass-roots representatives of civil society
      in aspects of Asean affairs. 

      Thailand has already set up a national
      commission on human rights, Kobsak said.

      The setting up of the commission was
      endorsed at the Asean ministerial meeting
      in Singapore in July 1993. A working group
      on human rights was then set up
      comprising representatives of Asean
      governments, parliaments and academia. 

      Kobsak quoted Saroj as telling the Manila
      meeting that Foreign Minister Surin
      Pitsuwan was willing to meet the working
      group at the annual Asean meeting to be
      held in the Philippines this July. 

      Thailand is the only country that has
      expressed its willingness to meet the group
      and show its support for the establishment
      of the commission, Kobsak said. 

      The working group is expected to present a
      paper entitled ''Synopsis of a Policy
      Initiative for the Establishment of an Asean
      Human Rights Mechanism''. The paper will
      encourage the ministers to promote and
      support human-rights activities, sponsor a
      regional conference for Asean to exchange
      views on the setting up of the commission
      and foster more programmes for the
      promotion of the rights of children, women
      and other vulnerable groups. 

      The Nation