CHR says its next leaders need strong human rights background, independence

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday called on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to name individuals with strong human rights backgrounds and independence as the next commissioners, saying it is essential to the commission’s retaining its “A” status as a national human rights institution based on global standards.

“We are facing accreditation this year…so it is of great importance that the process of the executive issuance in form of a decree or a legislation would be open, transparent, consultative and with broad participation of all stakeholders,” de Guia told lawmakers during CHR’s presentation of its P864-million budget for 2023 before the House appropriations panel.

“We have communicated this with Malaca?ang during recent weeks. It would be to our advantage if we follow this [process] in naming commissioners and the chairperson [for CHR]…and considering qualifications such as with strong commitment to human rights with 10-year experience on human rights work, independence, pluralism, among others. We hope these will be reflected as we look forward to the appointment to be done before the end of the year,” de Guia added.

The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) currently gives the CHR an “A” status based on compliance with the Paris Principles, the regulatory framework of all human rights institutions in the world.

The Paris Principles deems a human rights institution such as CHR in good standing if it has the following:

clearly defined and broad-based mandate based on universal human rights standards, autonomy from government, independence guaranteed by legislation or the constitution, pluralism, including membership that broadly reflects their society, adequate resources, and adequate powers of investigation.

The CHR has no chairperson at the moment since the death of Chito Gascon last year, and there are seats unfilled since four commissioners’ retirement.

“We respect the Office of the President as they are assessing very well and looking into vacancies in other agencies within the bureaucracy and we look forward to a highly transparent process [in appointing CHR commissioners] as this will impact the status of the accreditation of the CHR,” de Guia said.

“We don’t want to be downgraded to status B since it would reflect negatively on the government in terms of human rights protection and promotion,” she added.

In a separate interview, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles says there is no timetable in appointing new people for the CHR leadership.

“I can’t really say when the appointment is going to be made. U understand it is already under consideration,” Angeles said.

“So maybe, any day now, I am not sure. Like I said, it has been under consideration already,” she added. — BM, GMA News

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