President David Granger has stated that establishment of the four Rights Commissions is achievable with the full cooperation of the Opposition by the end of this year and reiterated his commitment to meaningful consultations with the political Opposition to see this process through, according to GINA.
The President was at the time responding to questions posed by a reporter during the recording of his weekly programme ‘The Public Interest’.
The commissions are: the Women and Gender Equality Commission, Indigenous Peoples’ Commission, Rights of the Child Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Ethnic Relations Commission.
“Each Minister is aware of the person in the Opposition with whom he or she has to deal on matters of State policy… It is just a matter of form to ensure that there is consultation and there are many other issues on which we have to consult with the Opposition but there are no obstacles to consultation and it is the principle of the Coalition to ensure that there is consultation,” President Granger said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, under whose portfolio governance falls explained that when the Coalition took Office, it did not find any records for the Commissions and as such, the process had to be started from beginning. He added that it was under the previous administration that these commissions were left to languish and that his office is working to ensure that they are all operational as quickly as possible.
“This process of meeting with stakeholders is on-going. The Constitution provides generally for a three year term of appointment for commissioners, which is a mechanism to foster maximum transparency and accountability. I, as Prime Minister, and my staff have since met with the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] Resident Coordinator to ascertain best practices for the Human Rights Commission format since this Commission was never made operational under the PPP Government,” the Prime Minister said.
He added that new commissioners will have to be constitutionally appointed and in this regard, the Parliamentary Committee on appointments has begun the process of meeting with national candidates for the Ethnic Relations Commission.
Commissioners were last appointed for the Women and Gender Equality Commission, Indigenous Peoples’ Commission and Rights of the Child Commission in 2010, while the Ethnic Relations Commission has been without a chair since 2011. The Human Rights Commission, which has to be comprised of the chairpersons of the other four Commissions, was never constituted under the previous administration.
Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on numerous occasion before, has given his party’s commitment to work with the government on issues of national importance.