International Standards: The Paris Principles
Examining the Record in Africa
Innovative and Positive Contributions by Commissions
The Role Of The International Community
The Human Rights Commission has technically been operational since January 1996 with the appointments of the law commissioner and the ombudsman to their positions. However, the delay in the passage of enabling legislation which also held up the appointment of the additional five commissioners and the secretariat staff, prevented the Human Rights Commission from becoming fully functional until 1999.
Between 1996 and 1999, the Human Rights Commission only existed in name. To their credit, the law commissioner and the ombudsman did make efforts to take some action. Much of their time was spent in drafting and advocating for the passage of the enabling legislation for the commission. The two serving commissioners also decided not to undertake any comprehensive planning that would commit the Human Rights Commission to a plan of action until the full commission was sitting in order to ensure a consensus.147
In 1999, the Human Rights Commission took part in monitoring the June 15, 1999 presidential and parliamentary elections with funding from Danida, the Danish aid agency. After April, once the commissioners were all sworn in, much time was spent in orientation and training meetings, and in recruiting and hiring the secretariat staff. The commissioners wanted a transparent hiring process, and an open recruitment, application and interview process was undertaken over a four month period. The full staff of seventy was hired and began work in August 1999. The commissioners also organized strategic planning meetings, drafted terms of service for staff, and drew up project proposals for donor funding. A two-day orientation workshop for commissioners and the staff was held with commissioners from the Ghanaian, Ugandan, and South African human rights commissions, in addition to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.148
In liaison with the department of human resource management and development, the Human Rights Commission is planning to establish a secretariat with five departments: legal affairs, education and training; investigations, research and documentation; and administration and finance. The head office is based in Lilongwe and regional offices in Malawi's three administrative regions are planned.
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