ANNI letter to President Benigno Simeon Aquino urging him to ensure that there be transparency and pluralism in the process of selecting and appointing a new Chairperson for the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP)
His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President, Republic of the Philippines
20 July 2010
Dear President Aquino,
Greetings from the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI).
The ANNI is a network of non-governmental organizations from all over Asia engaged in the work of developing and establishing national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the region. We are writing to you today to express our grave concern over the non-participatory and non-transparent selection process for the new Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP). The ANNI believes that this process runs against the Paris Principles, the primary international instrument that sets out the roles and functions of NHRIs and the standards of independence, effectiveness, and accountability, by which NHRIs must conform with. The Paris Principles were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993.
We understand that under the current process, only the President of the Philippines may select and appoint members of the CHRP, including its Chair. This is a process that runs counter to the guarantees of pluralism under the Paris Principles, which specifically states:
“The composition of the national institution and the appointment of its members,
whether by means of an election or otherwise, shall be established in accordance with a procedure which affords all necessary guarantees to ensure the pluralist representation of the social forces (of civilian society) involved in the promotion and protection of human rights…”
In the General Observations of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC-SCA), it is noted that pluralism required under the Paris Principles can be achieved by involving diverse societal groups to suggest or recommend candidates in the appointment procedures of the members of the NHRI.
The ANNI would also like to note that the selection and appointment process is critical in ensuring the pluralism and independence of the NHRI. The ICC-SCA particularly cited the following factors vital in the selection and appointment of the NHRI’s governing body:
(a) A transparent process;
(b) Broad consultation throughout the selection and appointment process;
(c) Advertising vacancies broadly; and
(d) Maximizing the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal issues.
It is in this light that we therefore urge your office to establish a selection and appointment committee for the process of filling the current vacancy within the CHRP. This committee should include representatives from all groups from civil society (e.g. NGOs, trends in philosophical thought, academe, etc.) to reflect the principle of pluralism, as mandated in the Paris Principles.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of pluralism in the selection and appointment of members of the CHRP. Pluralism ensures input from different sectors in society. It would ensure that a national human rights institution like the CHRP would have the opportunity to detect all possible human rights violations and that there would be different perspectives within the Commission from different sectors. Without pluralism there would be the danger of the institution becoming self-contained and thereby potentially neglect issues of other groups.
The ANNI remains firm in its commitment to stand together with human rights defenders in Philippines and in Asia in promoting and protecting human rights in the region.
We look forward to your positive response to this.
Ms. Emerlynne A. Gil
Coordinator, Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI)
Manager, Human Rights Defenders Department
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
246 Times Square Building
12th Floor, 12-01 Sukhumvit Road, Between Soi 12 & 14
Tel. no. +66 2 653 2940
Fax no. +66 2 653 2942