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S-E Asia to adopt human rights platform, condemned by activists

Published on Nov 17, 2012 7:48 PM

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - South-east Asian nations have agreed to sign their first joint declaration on human rights, but the document was condemned by rights groups as failing to meet international standards and as leaving the door open for countries to crack down on freedoms.

The commitment by the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), to be signed on Sunday in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, comes as several of its 10 member countries come under growing scrutiny over an apparent deterioration in human rights.

United States President Barack Obama is under pressure to raise human rights concerns with Cambodia and Myanmar on his visit to the region for the East Asia summit in Phnom Penh on Monday.

The Asean Human Rights Declaration, which is not legally binding, begins with the principle, "All persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights". It affirms that all citizens are entitled to equal protection by the law, and that vulnerable groups such as women, minorities, disabled people and migrants have "inalienable" rights and freedoms.

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