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  4. March 2007 - Volume 47
  5. Independent and Effective Institutions

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FOCUS March 2007 Volume 47

Independent and Effective Institutions


The credibility and value of national human rights institutions are determined by their independence from government, and the extent that their work addresses human rights violations effectively.

Many national human rights institutions in Asia and the Pacific are perceived to be lacking in independence from government and suffering from inability to address human rights violations particularly those involving government officials, and members of the national security forces (including the police). Some institutions have to contend with a variety of demands from numerous sectors of society.

How will these institutions be able to meet the expectations of society? Based on the experiences obtained so far (during the last five years at least), what does it take to make these institutions effective?

Granting that maintaining complete independence from government is a big challenge, they must not be perceived as a tool to cover up the human rights situation of the country. Thus, too, while granting that most institutions in the region do not have the necessary wherewithal to resolve the major human rights issues in the country, they must pursue all possible ways and means to address them.

There is a need to go back to the basic requirements of the Paris Principles (though they are probably incomplete) to assess and learn from the experiences in Asia and the Pacific, and continue the pursuit of having credible and valuable national human rights institutions.