Jakarta. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has commended the vast improvements development has brought to the Asia-Pacific region, but he also highlighted increasing crackdowns on freedoms of expression and assembly as well as discrimination against minorities in many countries.
Speaking at the Jakarta International Conversation on Human Rights on Monday (05/02), Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein noted that many indices, such as those tracking life expectancy, access to education and decent living standards, have risen enormously in countries in the region in recent decades.
He also highlighted that participatory and accountable systems of government, as well as the rule of law, have improved in many countries.
"Although in some cases, this overall improvement masks important areas of neglect, such as the equal rights of women," Zeid said.
He also pointed out that although progress has been significant, many governments are cracking down on the freedoms of expression and assembly.
"I am also deeply concerned about crackdowns on civil society in many countries… Jailing critics does not make society safer," Zeid said.
He added that many minorities in the region are suffering discrimination – in some countries more than in others.
He further warned that more turmoil may be underway in the world and suggested that greater justice through cooperation was the best way to ensure peaceful coexistence.
"Governance that serves rather than silences, and economic systems rooted in dignity, are the responsibility of every government," Zeid said.
The UN human rights chief is currently on a three-day visit to Jakarta at the invitation of the Indonesian government. He is scheduled to meet with top officials and representatives of the country's national human rights institutions.
Zeid did not touch on domestic human rights issues during Monday's event, which commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration.