JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government has started dialogue with the Commonwealth Secretariat for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) compliant with the Paris Principles.
  • The Paris Principles are a set of guiding standards which form the framework for the establishment of NHRIs.
  • Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding welcomed the discussion on how Jamaica can establish an effective and sustainable NHRI.

The Government has started dialogue with the Commonwealth Secretariat for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) compliant with the Paris Principles.

The Paris Principles are a set of guiding standards which form the framework for the establishment of NHRIs. These principles were drafted at an international workshop in Paris, France in 1991, and were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, delivering the keynote address at the first of a two-day session, on July 22, welcomed the discussion on how Jamaica can establish an effective and sustainable NHRI.

“This dialogue will provide us with a useful opportunity to learn more about the features and role of National Human Rights Institutions, and we can begin the process of considering the range of choices that exist as to the type of institution that would best fit our country’s needs,” he said.

The Minister also affirmed the Government’s commitment to the human rights treaties, of which Jamaica is a signatory.

“At meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments held in 2012 and 2013, Jamaica joined with other governments which make up the Commonwealth to renew and reaffirm the commitments given under these international agreements, and agreed to support the establishment and strengthening of National Human Rights Institutions,” Senator Golding said.

Acting Head of Human Rights, Commonwealth Secretariat,  Karen McKenzie, who also addressed the group of stakeholders, highlighted the significance of the discourse.

“The importance of having a dialogue is part of the journey that the Commonwealth Secretariat has when a government indicates an intention for the establishment of an NHRI. Such a dialogue aims at ensuring that governments, ministries, senior officials, the judiciary, electoral commission and other government institutions all have the same understanding and they have been clarified on the international framework for the establishment of a NHRI,” she said.

The Commonwealth Secretariat, as part of its support, will provide technical support to the Jamaican Government.

“Our assistance will include helping and supporting the Government to develop legislation or review current legislation. We will also want to facilitate a national stakeholder conference where we would invite all the relevant stakeholders to participate and voice their opinions,” Ms. McKenzie said.

She also lauded the Government for the steps it has taken to promote human rights.

Pointing to the establishment of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the justice sector reform and the Disabilities Act that is currently before Parliament, she said “we must celebrate and commend that which has been done and is being done.”

More than 100 countries already have NHRIs. Of that figure, 21 of those countries are part of the Commonwealth and have accredited institutions.

Jamaica has done significant work in the area of Human Rights, beginning with the declaration of National Human Rights Year in 1968 by then Governor General, Sir Clifford Campbell. Since then Jamaica has ratified seven of the nine core international human rights treaties.

A number of topics will be discussed over the two-day period, including the roles and responsibilities of NHRIs and the legal framework for the establishment of a Paris Principle compliant NHRI.