Liberia: Human Rights Commission Says Removing Tenured Status Undermines International Principles

Monrovia – As the Bill to repeal all tenured positions reaches the Liberian Senate, the Independent National Commission Human Rights (INCHR), one of the tenured institutions, says scraping off its tenured status will undermine the “Paris principles”.

Report by J.H. Webster Clayeh 00231770745986

National human rights institutions across the globe are established based on the Paris principles adopted by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 48/134 (1993).

The Paris principles, most importantly emphasize that national human rights institutions are part of the Global Human Rights protection mechanism that are localized in independent jurisdictions and must never deviate from standard established by the Paris principles.

A founding constitutional or legislative statue, an independent appointment procedure with terms office specified by law and also independence from the Executive Branch of government are some of the many values of the “Paris principles”.

The Bill from the Executive to repeal all tenure positions was subsequently passed by the House of Representatives and is awaiting concurrence from the Senate.

Speaking to journalists at its head offices in Sinkor, Monrovia, INCHR says when the Bill is passed, they will cease to be an independent commission with the authority to monitor, protect and promote the rights of Liberians and all those residing within the jurisdiction of the country.

Commissioner Wilfred N. Gray-Johnson said their institution is unique because they give reports to the three branches of government and not only to the Executive branch.

According to him, National Human Rights Institutions are not government institution. Rather, they are state institutions, which link to international norms and standards that the Liberian government is signature to.

According to him, institutions need certain level of independence when they are state institutions.

“We trust the wisdom of the Senate. Not only the Senate, we trust even the wisdom of our President to understand this and the implication thereof and allow for an exemption of this commission from that tenure repeal bill,” Commissioner Gray-Johnson stated.

According to the Commissioner, too much power given to the President has been one of the factors that contributed to the country’s prolong civil war.

He added that it would be difficult for the INCHR to properly function without tenure status.

Commissioner Gray-Johnson said: “There is a reason that some institutions much have tenure. If you do not have tenure; serving at the most difficult job is the job that you get up in the morning and do not have an opinion, you cannot express what you are believe in because if you say what you believe in tomorrow you will be out.”

Also, Acting Commissioner of INCHR Atty. Bartholomew B. Colley said Human Rights Commission like most national human rights institutions in the world are integral part of the government.

Acting Commissioner Colley says they are independent of government in both form and manner because their role is to objectively bring out issues of human rights violations and hold government accountable.

“This core responsibility places the Independent National Commission on Human Rights in a unique and valuable position,” Atty. Colley said.

He said they are not challenging government, adding that if the law is passed for their institution to be removed out of its tenured status the Liberian government will face serious consequences from the international community.

“These people who are sitting by me on this table run around this world and brought to this country first class ‘A’ status. Since former President Taylor formed the human commission it did not happen,” Atty. Colley said.

“We did it, and we did it for our country, and we are not talking for ourselves, we are talking for a country. So the thing is that, if you remove us from this tenure in violation of the Paris principles, you move Liberia from the top from the Ground.”

The INCHR also want the Senate to give them due process so that they can make their case on why their institution should not lose its tenured status.

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