Home > Press Releases > SAVE CHR STATUS – CHR, RIGHTS GROUPS CALL FOR TRANSPARENT SELECTION OF CHR CHAIR

SAVE CHR STATUS – CHR, RIGHTS GROUPS CALL FOR TRANSPARENT SELECTION OF CHR CHAIR

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

Republic of the Philippines

–FROM THE OFFICE OF THE OFFICER IN CHARGE–

PRESS STATEMENT

7July 2010

SAVE CHR STATUS –   CHR, RIGHTS GROUPS  CALL FOR TRANSPARENT SELECTION OF CHR CHAIR

Who will be the next Chairperson of the Commission Human Rights?  With a new wave of extrajudicial killings, that person will have the challenge of independently  investigating these new and existing cases, and monitoring the government.   The present CHR Commissioners  and major Human Rights civil society groups s say that the selection process is just as vital as the actual individual appointed.

“A participatory and transparent selection process is vital to the CHR’s standing in the U.N. and other international bodies to speak up on the Philippine human rights situation and advocate for victims,”  said CHR Officer in Charge, Commissioner Cecilia R.V. Quisumbing.

The CHR, the Ateneo Center for Human Rights,  Karapatan, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)  have issued a joint call for the President to establish a process for the selection of the CHR Chairperson that includes  open applications and consultations with stakeholders  as required by international standards.

According to Quisumbing, the CHR has already been warned by the international accreditation body  in its past review that the process of selecting its members does not meet with the Principles Relating to the Status of National  Human Rights Institutions, also known as the Paris Principles,  which were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993.

The Chairperson of that accreditation body, the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions,  wrote to the CHR this week that “there is increasing reference to the importance of open, transparent appointments processes.”

PAHRA Chairperson Max M. De Mesa said, “I agree that CHRP sets the example for transparency in government processes.”

Karapatan Secretary-General Marie Hilao Enriquez welcomes the CHR’s initiatives for a multi-stakeholder call to President Aquino.  “We hope the selection body includes representatives for human rights NGOs working on the ground,” added Enriquez.

Quisumbing noted, “It would be a shame to lose our A-status (the highest level of independence and credibility) during the Aquino Administration, just when we’re all optimistic about a rights-focussed government”.

President Aquino promised transparency in his  inaugural speech where “Papaigtingin namin ang proseso ng konsultasyon at pag-uulat sa taumbayan. Sisikapin naming isakatuparan ang nakasaad sa ating Konstitusyon na kinikilala ang karapatan ng mamamayan na magkaroon ng kaalaman ukol sa mga pampublikong alintana.”

Malaysia’s human rights commission was downgraded from A-status to B-status in 2008 because the selection process for members was not deemed independent.

The rating of commissions and institutions for human rights are determined by the International Coordinating Committee  (ICC) for National Human Rights Institutions, the worldwide association of rights commissions and ombudsmen.

ICC Chairperson, Rosslyn Noonan, Chairperson of the New Zealand CHR,  wrote to the CHR OIC early this week, advising that “there is increasing reference to the importance of open, transparent appointments processes in the Accreditation Sub-Committee’s reports, including reference to involving civil society in the appointments committee, which is generally advisory to the head of government or whoever is actually mandated to make the appointment.”

An A-status means that the institution meets all the criteria set out in Paris Principles.  It gives the CHR the right to make statements at the Human Rights Council, to make reports and statements to U.N. Committees that monitor compliance with each human rights convention, among others.

Using the privelege last May, at the 14th Regular Session of the U.N. HR Council, Commissioner Quisumbing called the world’s attention to the mis-steps in investigating and prosecuting suspects implicated in the November massacre in Bargangay Ampatuan, Maguindanao, including the DOJ’s  dismissal of charges against two members of the Ampatuan family without full due process.

The CHR is often the institution that victims and advocates turn to for their complaints and suggestions to be heard by domestic and international leaders.

Earlier this week, the Commission on Human Rights asked President Aquino to meet with the CHR and  families of victims of involuntary disappearances about the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, on the request of AFAD.

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  1. sychitpin
    August 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Coco Quisumbing is an excellent choice as Chairperson of CHR.

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