The Asian Human Rights Commission is a leading regional group that counteracts the day to day abuse of basic human rights across Asia through fast, accurate and constant advocacy on individual cases, government policy and institutional obstacles to democracy and the rule of law. The AHRC is based in Hong Kong, with a dedicated staff of over 20 persons from around the region and further abroad, plus interns and volunteers. It is wholly independent.
The AHRC seeks to protect and promote human rights by daily monitoring, investigating and campaigning. It is the first and foremost rights group in Asia to have emphasized speedy communication through modern technology for effective change, while at the same time maintaining close links with victims.
All programs of the AHRC stress the need to build functioning institutions for the rule of law and democracy in Asia, through public participation. At the heart of the work are the urgent appeals, which are a way to respond quickly to some among the thousands of cases that occur every day. From urgent appeals, extensive projects have followed on torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and caste discrimination. There are activities for religious groups, and a human rights folk school. Special campaigns and petitions run on specific cases and incidents. Court observers are sent to monitor cases of particular concern; lawyers are hired to represent victims; researchers are dispatched to do detailed studies and investigate important concerns or events. And through the AHRC internship program, committed persons from all over Asia are invited to spend up to a year at the main office, both to learn and to inform. The AHRC also offers an award for outstanding human rights defenders in the region.
In the last ten years, the AHRC and its partners have helped to save thousands of lives and intervened for the good of countless more. Today we see growing demand for urgent appeals, which have a track record of success. Torture, once taboo, is now hotly discussed in many Asian countries. New groups and activists are being born. Government policies are being changed. Laws are being introduced. People are speaking out in an unprecedented way, and human rights are gaining ground in the media and public debate. The AHRC is at the heart of all this.
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