The 34th Asia-Europe Lecture Tour “Human rights in criminal justice systems” brought to Asia Professor Manfred Nowak, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, Vienna and the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. He held a series of public lectures and briefings to present a reference book co-authored with Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges, as a Background Paper to the 9th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights “Human Rights in Criminal Justice Systems”.
In his presentation Professor Nowak focused on the outcomes and recommendations of the 9th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights held in February 2009 in Strasbourg, France. Topics included: (1) Crime and Punishment; (2) Human Rights in Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention; (3) The Right of the Accused to a Fair Trial.
The participants had an opportunity to engage in an open dialogue with the lecturer. They discussed the importance for the criminal justice system to carefully balance different and sometimes conflicting interests, where, on one hand, states have legitimate interests to fight crime and maintain internal security, as well as to protect the interest of the victims of crime, and on the other hand, an obligation to ensure that human rights of the accused or convicted, guaranteed by international conventions, are observed.
In addition, special briefings were organised in Bangkok and hosted by Forum Asia, as well as in Phnom Penh, hosted by UNOHCHR (Cambodian regional office). The smaller-sized audience and close-door format of the briefings have provided basis for deeper dialogue with the specialised audience in the identified venues.
The public lectures attracted a wide audience, including government officials, judiciary and practising lawyers, as well as academia and human rights professionals from national and international NGOs.
The public lectures were hosted on 24 November in Bangkok by Mahidol University in association with Thammasat University; in Phnom Penh on 25 November by Cambodian Defenders Project and on 26 November by Pannasatra University; on 29 November in Vientiane by National University of Laos.
About the speaker
Professor Manfred Nowak graduated from the Vienna Law School (Dr iur 1973) and from Columbia University New York (LL M 1975). He has been professor at the Institute of Constitutional and Administrative Law at the University of Vienna since 1986. In 1989, he founded the Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights in Vienna. From 1996-2003, Manfred Nowak was a judge at the Human Rights Chamber in Bosnia. From 1993 until 2006 Professor Nowak served in various functions as expert on enforced disappearances for the United Nations. In 2004, he was appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. His mandate ended in late 2010. In addition, Manfred Nowak was also Chairperson of the European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratization. Manfred Nowak has published more than 400 books and articles on international, constitutional, administrative, and human rights law, including the standard commentary on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and on the Convention against Torture (together with Elizabeth McArthur). He was awarded the UNESCO Prize for the Teaching of Human Rights in 1994 and the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights in 2007.