The Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal, has suggested that close collaboration between governments within the West African sub-region and their respective human rights institutions to curb excessive human rights violations.
However, he raised concern about the unwillingness of most governments within the sub-region to allocate sufficient funds to support and assist the various human rights institutions.
“Governments in the sub-region must work collectively with the National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa to strategically put an end to these human rights violations which are dehumanising and embarrassment to such countries,” Mr Whittal decried.
Mr Whittal said this when he was outlining his vision for the next three years after his re-election as President of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in West Africa for the next three years, after he was first elected to lead the network in 2019, which tenure ended this year and re-elected at the Fourth Regional Consultation of NHRIs held in Abidjan, La Cote d’Ivoire in June.
The Network was established in 2006 pursuant to the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) protocol on democracy and good governance, to bring together National Human Rights Institutions in all 16 West African countries to ensure all NHRIs unite with common voice targeted at fulfilling their various mandates of promoting the respect for and protection of human rights.
Mr Whittal indicated that he was committed, dedicated and determined to working towards amending the network’s constitution to reflect modern needs, develop strategic plan focusing on potential strategic partners including governments within the sub-region, solicit for increased logistical, financial support, assistance, broader collaboration to boost its progress, growth and development.
“In recent times, some West African countries have had to deal with rising human rights concerns, particularly, threats associated with violent extremism, terrorism, political instability and other issues of grave concern for all relevant stakeholders in the sub-region.
“It is no secret political transitions have become problematic in some West African economies, fuelling human rights violations against citizens and other human rights defenders such as Judiciary, nongovernmental organisations, civil society organisations and measures will be outlined to explore avenues to generate funds for the network’s projects,”Mr Whittal assured.
He maintained that funding had been a major obstacle for human rights institutions in the sub-region and stressed that part of measures to generate funds would be to project brand image of NHRIs to the public to whip up interest of individuals and groups interested in human rights activities, which would lead to increased support, assistance and opportunities for member institutions.