The 4th Human Rights Conference 2023 organised by the LAWASIA's Human Rights Committee, in association with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the Fukuoka Bar Association, took place from 2nd to 4th September 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan. This was the first in-person conference organised by the LAWASIA Human Rights Committee after the COVID-19 pandemic.
With an impressive turnout of over 300 participants from various jurisdictions, the Conference also featured a range of experienced legal professionals and activists with formidable track records in the human rights field. This included the President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Ms Lubna Shuja and President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Mr Motoji Kobayashi
Our Managing Partner, Mr Steven Thiru, who is the Vice President of LAWASIA, was invited to speak on behalf of LAWASIA in the Plenary Session titled “Armed Conflicts and Gross Violation of Human Rights: Bar Associations to Co-work for Victims”. Joining him as panellists were the President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Mr Motoji Kobayashi, President of the Bar Association of India and Indian Law Foundation, Mr Prashant Kumar, member of the Malaysian Bar Council, New Sin Yew and President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Ms Lubna Shuja who sent her pre-recorded presentation. The session was moderated by former Co-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of LAWASIA, Professor Yasushi Higashizawa.
In his speech, Mr Steven elaborated on the efforts taken by LAWASIA, which included organising observer missions in countries such as Fiji in 2007 to assess the impact of political events on the country’s judiciary at the material time. This culminated in a report making recommendations and observations on issues at the material time including the impact of the coup on the rule of law, and the varying perceptions of the suspension of Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki. More recent efforts of LAWASIA that Mr Steven presented to the audience was its participation in capacity building of Myanmar lawyers to provide training on Malaysian laws and ways in which they may support refugees in Malaysia.
Our Senior Associate, Ms Jen Hui also had the privilege of participating in the Conference. The diverse range of participants of the Conference also sparked exciting cultural and knowledge exchanges which will, no doubt, be helpful in advancing the protection of human rights and state of legal profession.
There was a strong presence of Malaysian speakers at the Conference. Amongst them was Past President of the National Human Rights Society of Malaysia, Mr Abdul Rashid Ismail who spoke on the Role of Defence Lawyers and Bar Associations towards the Abolition of Death Penalty in Asia.
In his session, Mr Rashid drew on the experiences and challenges in advocating for the abolishment of the death penalty in Malaysia which was only recently passed into law.
Member of Constitutional and Human Rights Committee of LAWASIA, Dr. Loganathan Krishnan spoke on the topic ‘Childrenʼs Rights and Global Environmental Issues including Climate Change’.
Chief Human Rights Strategist at the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights, Ms Firdaus Hosni was a moderator for the 2nd Plenary Session, “Promoting Access to Effective Remedy in Business and Human Rights: The Role and Cooperation of Lawyers Beyond Borders” where human rights lawyer, Mr Edmund Bon was a panellist of. In his session, Mr Edmund Bon spoke of the importance of promoting human rights in business and presented the case of Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur v. Perbadanan Pengurusan Trellises & Ors and other appeals  3 MLJ 829 as a successful example where the human rights trumped business.
We congratulate the Organiser for the outstanding success of the Conference and thank them for bringing together such a diverse group of legal professionals to exchange knowledge in promoting a better future.