The Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal, has been retained as President of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in West Africa, for another three-year term.
The decision was taken at the 4th regional consultation of NHRIs held from June 28 to 30, 2022, in Abidjan, La Cote d’Ivoire.
Mr. Joseph Whittal was first elected to lead the network in 2019.
The commissioner led the network to send missions to some African countries to monitor and observe elections, particularly of the state of the vulnerable and marginalised during the elections in Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, and Liberia.
The election observer missions programme was carried out in furtherance of the network’s larger objectives.
Mr Whittal also designated three staff of CHRAJ as permanent staff in the secretariat of the NHRIS at the Greater Accra Regional office of CHRAJ.
The office is open to all members of the NHRIs in the sub-region.
Mr Whittal spelt out his vision for the second term to include projecting the work and purposes of the NHRIs to citizens to pique their interest in human rights issues for increased support of the work and activities of the network.
He, however, said the network’s biggest challenge was funding.
According to the commissioner, most states were not allocating sufficient funds to support member institutions, but said he was exploring other avenues to generate funds for the network’s projects.
The meeting concluded with the network urging governments to collaborate with it to strategically end human rights violations, such as violent extremism and terrorism, as well as political instability in the region.
Also concern to the network is political transitions which had become problematic in some West-African countries, thus, fuelling human rights violations against citizens, the judiciary, NGOs, and CSOs.
About the Network
The NHRIs was established in 2006, pursuant to the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance, to bring together national human rights institutions in all 16 West African countries.
The purpose of the network is to ensure that all NHRIs unite with a common voice to fulfill their various mandate of promoting, respecting and protection of human rights.