Whither the hu­man rights com­mis­sion?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea Shale

Sev­eral calls have been made by civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions in le­sotho, de­vel­op­ment part­ners and the in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions on le­sotho govern­ment to es­tab­lish a Na­tional Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion. The ob­vi­ous re­ac­tion to the pre­sen­ta­tion of Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion Bill in the Na­tional as­sem­bly should have been rise in ap­plause by hu­man rights de­fend­ers in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the end of the decade’s long jour­ney. In­stead, all with the ex­cep­tion of Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on law and Pub­lic Safety, Min­istry of law, Hu­man rights and Con­sti­tu­tional affairs and their dis­ci­ples are amazed at the rushed tabling. The civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions have used var­i­ous ways to im­press upon govern­ment to es­tab­lish a Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion of the idea among Ba­sotho and hold­ing pub­lic and pol­icy mak­ers di­a­logues. Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­tre has re­ceived fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the eu to carry out th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties. le­sotho Coun­cil of NGOS has had a num­ber of ad­vo­cacy ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing com­pi­la­tion of le­sotho Hu­man rights shadow re­port and pre­sen­ta­tion of the same to the Uni­ver­sal Pe­ri­odic re­view mech­a­nism of the Hu­man rights Coun­cil of United Na­tions.

at the UPR in 2010 where le­sotho civil so­ci­ety was rep­re­sented by LCN and DPE in Geneva Switzer­land the govern­ment promised to es­tab­lish the in­sti­tu­tion soon­est but the coun­try was sub­jected to the next pe­ri­odic re­view in 2015 with­out the Com­mis­sion. De­vel­op­ment for Peace education has in this in­no­va­tive Matšoaboli Snap­shot of Key De­mands to the first Coali­tion in the first hun­dred days in of­fice put es­tab­lish­ment of hu­man rights com­mis­sion, re­sus­ci­ta­tion of na­tional AIDS Com­mis­sion, for­ma­tion of na­tional Plan­ning Board, en­act­ment of Pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion Law and fis­cal de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion as pri­or­i­ties.

In the other ci­ti­zen –govern­ment fora such a call has been re­peated. The need for hu­man rights com­mis­sion has been ex­pressed by many other or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clu­sive of but not lim­ited to FIDA, Wlsa, CCJP, lawyers for Hu­man rights, law So­ci­ety and LNDFOD to name few. all the calls have been for an in­de­pen­dent and vi­brant com­mis­sion that is not in­ca­pac­i­tated by the over con­trol by govern­ment in other words com­mis­sion of the high­est sta­tus. Now this has been so rushed through par­lia­ment the ques­tion is “Which sta­tus for le­sotho Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion?” Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion is an in­sti­tu­tion that pro­tects hu­man rights, mon­i­tors ob­ser­vance of such by other govern­ment and non-gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions and pro­motes re­spect for all and by all.

While coun­tries are en­ti­tled to for­mu­late laws in ways they so wish, there are Paris Prin­ci­ples to be fol­lowed in es­tab­lish­ing such Com­mis­sions with­out which th­ese in­sti­tu­tions can just be ex­ten­sion of in­flu­ence of ex­ec­u­tive and per­pet­u­a­tion of rights abuse un­der cover. “Which sta­tus for le­sotho Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion?”

Th­ese prin­ci­ples pro­vide guid­ance on the se­lec­tion and ap­point­ment of com­mis­sion­ers and the sec­re­tar­iat of the com­mis­sions. Is­sues of trans­parency, broad­en­ing scope for max­i­mum par­tic­i­pa­tion in terms of ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est to serve etc. They also pro­vide guid­ance on how the ten­ure of of­fice of com­mis­sion­ers and those who work for it should be se­cured. It would be putting in­de­pen­dence of Com­mis­sion in dan­ger if the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity may as well have un­fet­tered right to dis­miss or con­trol dis­missal mech­a­nism.

The role of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions is crit­i­cal in the es­tab­lish­ment and func­tion­ing of hu­man rights Com­mis­sion. While the Com­mis­sion may be a coun­try’s fo­cal point for hu­man rights, it must ac­knowl­edge role played by civil so­ci­ety in sup­port­ing the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights and not treat the sec­tor like its ju­nior part­ner. The re­la­tion of Com­mis­sion with civil so­ci­ety forms part of prin­ci­ples that even trans­late into grad­ing cri­te­ria.

Un­der­min­ing, or ridi­cul­ing civil so­ci­ety in the plat­forms where they could not be able to re­spond does not make le­sotho any good but sim­ply ex­poses the cal­i­bre of lead­er­ship driv­ing the hu­man rights com­mis­sion process. ev­ery Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion that is es­tab­lished in the coun­try which is party to the Paris dec­la­ra­tion like le­sotho has to be sub­jected to scru­tiny and ap­pro­pri­ate grad­ing. The In­ter­na­tional Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee’s Sub-com­mit­tee on ac­cred­i­ta­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court of Jus­tice which al­lo­cates sta­tuses to the Com­mis­sions pre­dom­i­nantly on the ba­sis of an ex­tent to which they com­ply with Paris Prin­ci­ples is a gate keeper.

Those given “a” sta­tus fully com­ply with Paris Prin­ci­ples and that cat­e­gori­sa­tion gives them right to par¬tic­i­pate fully in the in­ter­na­tional and re­gional work and meet­ings of na­tional in­sti­tu­tions as vot­ing mem­bers and par­tic­i­pate in ses­sions of the Hu­man rights Coun­cil and take the floor un­der any agenda item.

The “B” sta­tus grants hu­man rights com­mis­sion to par­tic­i­pate as ob­server in the in­ter­na­tional and re­gional work and meet­ings of na­tional in­sti­tu­tions with­out right to vote in sub­com­mit­tees and has lim­ited ac­cess to de­lib­er­a­tions.

The “C” sta­tus is for those in­sti­tu­tions that are not com­pli­ant with Paris Prin­ci­ples and have no right to par­tic­i­pate in the meet­ings of In­ter­na­tional Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee Sub-com­mit­tee on ac­cred­i­ta­tion al­beit ex­cep­tional in­vi­ta­tions. “Which sta­tus for le­sotho Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion?”

The Na­tional as­sem­bly of the par­lia­ment of the King­dom of le­sotho has just pro­cessed at the un­prece­dented speed the Hu­man rights Com­mis­sion Bill. The over speed­ing has caused the port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on law and Pub­lic Safety to “de­cide against seek­ing in­puts from stake­hold­ers to avoid a du­pli­ca­tion of ef­forts.”

This is premised on the un­der­stand­ing that the Min­istry had al­ready held ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tions with the stake­hold­ers that in­clude civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. What the Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee re­port does not say is what in­puts th­ese stake­hold­ers are said to have given, nor is the re­ac­tion of the com­mit­tee on such re­flected in the re­port put be­fore Na­tional as­sem­bly.

While it may not be known to the au­thor what could have ne­ces­si­tated such a speed to de­rail the com­mit­tee from its man­date as con­tained in the Sec­tion 76 of the Na­tional as­sem­bly Stand­ing Or­ders which obliges the Na­tional as­sem­bly to fa­cil­i­tate pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in its leg­isla­tive func­tions and in par­tic­u­lar Sec­tion 76(b) which makes it manda­tory for the Na­tional as­sem­bly to con­duct pub­lic hear­ings as and when nec­es­sary, the act is hor­ri­ble and un­demo­cratic. Fol­lowed to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion this Stand­ing Or­der and its sub­sec­tions gives means to and op­er­a­tionslises the Sec­tion 20(1) of the le­sotho con­sti­tu­tion which guar­an­tees right of ev­ery ci­ti­zen to par­tic­i­pate in gov­er­nance ei­ther di­rectly or through freely cho­sen rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.