Responding to the criticisms of the Government voiced by NIHRC Chief Commissioner to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Alliance Party Justice and Human Rights Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has called upon the Government to reinforce the Human Rights Commission by appointing new commissioners and completing the review of its powers, in order that can fully fulfil its mandate under the Good Friday Agreement.
Dr Farry stated:
“The Governments have failed to properly support and reinforce the NI Human Rights Commission.
“It would not be desirable to allow the current Commission to peter out and then replace all of the commissioners in early 2005 — all sense of
continuity would be thrown out the window.
“The Bill of Rights project is perhaps the one area of the Agreement where implementation is furthest behind. This is not a reflection upon the professionalism and integrity of the Commission, but rather upon the
political turmoil into which they have been thrown.
“I am hopeful the Commission will be able to further progress its vital consultations and deliberations on the Bill of Rights over the course of this year, with a view to tabling formal recommendations to the Secretary of
“To help them to do so, the Government must move to appoint some commissioners as soon as possible. If the appointments process is started now, new Commissioners could be in post by September.
“Also, the remaining Commissioner who is not participating in the meetings of the Commission, but who is still receiving renumeration, should be given
an ultimatum to decide between participating properly in the work of the body or leaving.
“Unless action is taken in the near future, whether through neglect or design, there is a danger that the Commission will be turned into a lame duck.
“The fate of the Commission must not be reduced to a bargaining chip within political negotiations — it is far more important than that.”