Supporting human rights defenders across the Asia Pacific region
Graphic: Fia Hamid-Walker
This month we welcome our new Project Officer, Fia Hamid-Walker, whose work will focus on supporting NHRIs to protect and promote the rights of HRDs.
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) have an important role in creating an enabling environment for human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Asia Pacific, says the APF’s new Project Officer, Fia Hamid-Walker.
our voice of reason. Their voices are our preventative measures to ensure no
gross human rights violations will be taken,” she says.
“We need accountability and the civic
space for people to peacefully voice their opinion without the fears being
judicially harassed or killed. NHRIs can work to enable this environment for
them and create bigger civic space.”
In her new role, Ms Hamid-Walker will work with APF member institutions to implement the APF Regional Action Plan on Human Rights Defenders. Her role will support NHRIs to engage with HRDs and civil society organisations in their countries, including supporting APF members to set up a mechanism to monitor and investigate human rights violations.
“In the absence of a regional court of human rights, such as the European and Inter-America Court of Human Rights, the APF has a uniquely strategic role in the Asia Pacific region,” she says. “Working with its members, the APF ensures that NHRIs will comply with international human rights standards they have consented to. The stronger and more independent an NHRI is, the better they are performing their functions and gaining trust from HRDs.”
With an academic and career background in human rights law and international development, Ms Hamid-Walker has worked with a community legal centre specialising in prisoners’ rights and police accountability and with Southeast Asian HRDs and civil society organisation on death penalty cases and advocacy.
She holds two law degrees, one from Indonesia and one from Australia, and is currently an admitted Australian lawyer and PhD candidate in international human rights law at Monash Law.
“’Human rights’ was a foreign term growing up in Indonesia”, she says. “What I knew back then was the normalisation of human rights violations. No questions asked or they made you disappeared.”
“Fortunately, I was one of the lucky people in Indonesia who was raised in a family of critical activists. Our intergenerational commitment to human rights went back since the Indonesia’s decolonisation era. So, I think working in human rights for me is a matter of principles, healing and grieving at the same time. It’s a long process.”
She believes that her first-hand experience working with HRDs for many years will help her to provide different perspectives for APF member institutions.
“I worked at the advisory level with several governments in Southeast Asia, including NHRIs reforming the country’s criminal laws. Having perspective as an HRD, a human rights lawyer, and a humanitarian, will help to facilitate different perspectives and interests of our partners.”
“At the end, this is all towards our shared goal that everyone will enjoy human rights.”
Date: 2 February 2023
- Fia Hamid-Walker - APF/Fia Hamid-Walker