South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

A 13 member delegation from SAHR representing countries of South Asia presented the below communique to the SAARC Secretary General H.E. Arjun Thapa on 26 February 2016.

Honourable Sir,

We have the honour to address you as a membership based regional network committed to the promotion and protection of human rights in the South Asian countries.

The strength and legitimacy of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) comes from its democratic structure and broad-based membership consisting of eminent persons and recognised human rights defenders in the region. The objectives of SAHR are based on the Neemrana Declaration which was developed by a group of eminent personalities and regional human rights defenders including late Mr. I.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Kamal Hossain from Bangladesh, Dr. Devendra Raj Panday from Nepal, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy from Sri Lanka and Mrs. Asma Jahangir from Pakistan.

Currently, SAHR is working on six programme areas based on its objective to protect and promote human rights in the South Asian region. These include: addressing grave human rights violations such as torture and enforced disappearances; popularising and implementation of core democratic values in South Asian Parliaments; engagement with SAARC and collaboration with civil society networks; promotion, protection and enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights; border issues; and women, peace and security.

We would like to highlight the following:

We propose the following recommendations to you:

    1. Facilitate regular round table dialogues with civil society in the South Asian region.
    2. Provide provisions for consultative participation of civil society in the official SAARC meeting similar to the ASEAN Framework.
    3. Take immediate steps to ensure protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in South Asia based on the UN Declaration on HRDs by the inclusion of this topic in the forth coming Foreign Ministerial preparatory consultation for the upcoming SAARC Summit 2016.

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights.

Hina Jilani

Nimalka Fernando