Background for the appointment process of the Commissioners of the Independent National Human Rights Commission

Background

The establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in Somalia is one of the priorities in the Provincial Constitution under Article 135 (2) (c). The constitutions also provides under Article 41(1) that; “The Federal Parliament shall establish a Human Rights Commission that is independent of government control, and has adequate resources to carry out its functions effectively”.

The Universal Periodic Review recommendations, to which Somalia made commitments, also underlines repeatedly the need to establish an NHRI[1]. Since the inauguration of the Federal Government in September 2012, commitments to establish a NHRI have been consistent. An independent human rights commission is a state body with constitutional and legislative mandate to protect and promote human rights. It plays a critical role in the protection and promotion of human rights, strengthening national protection system and nurturing a culture of human rights.

The Federal Human Rights Commission

The draft Human Rights Commission bill for the establishment of the commission was signed in to law on 14 August 2016 in a Ceremony presided over by the President and attended by various government and civil society leaders. The law has benefited extensively from comments from various stakeholders especially the UN and is largely compliant with human rights standards. The law paved way for the establishment of the commission and the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development, deems it proper to start the process of establishment of the commission according to the timelines appended to this concept note.

Process of selection of Commissioners

In order to facilitate the appointment of Commissioners the following steps will need to be taken in two main phases and likely in difficult circumstances:

  1. A special selection panel (provided under Article 15 (1) of the HRC Bill) shall be convened by the Council of Ministers, through the Minister of Women and Human Rights Development (MWHRD). A Panel of 19 members will conduct the appointment process through a technical process. The Panelists will be selected based on consultation and submissions from regional states and administrations.
  2. The MWHRD will approach and inform the regional leaders as the selection panel will be constituted by regional representatives while consulting with civil society representatives. The Ministry has already discussed this with regional leaders who have nominated 19 members to constitute the panel according to the requirements. (see distribution list below)
  3. The Panel will have the responsibility of selecting/recruiting suitable candidates for appointment as members of the Commission, which is a technical task to be conducted in Mogadishu under properly protected process given the sensitivity of the task before them – Appointing the commissioners of Somali National Human Rights Commission.
  4. As their first key task, the special panel nominated from various bodies as outlined in Art 15 (i) to (vii), with the Minister of Human Rights as the convener, will determine its own procedure and will be facilitated administratively and logistically by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights.
  5. The selection panel shall follow the procedure outlined in Article 15 (4 to 16), to facilitate the appointment process of the members of the Commission
  6. The criteria for selecting the Commissioners is outlined in article 8 of the HRC Bill. This criteria will be used by the selection panel to determine which applicants are most eligible to hold a Commission seat. The appointment process promises to be very challenging given the likely high number of applicants and the need to guard the process to protect its independence while ensuring utmost transparency. To ensure this happens, the ministry has consulted with regional leaders and nominated 19 members believed to be of high integrity.

The regions from which the TSP members have been selected:

FGS                 5

Puntland          2

Galmudug        2

South-West     2

Jubbaland        2

HirShabelle      2

Somaliland       2

Banadir            2

———————

Total              19

Officers from the Ministry of Women and Human Rights provide guidance, secretarial and administrative support to the process.

[1]The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a United Nations procedure that reviews the human rights situation of all UN Member States. Somalia’s human rights situation was reviewed in 2011 at the 18th session of the Human Rights Council. The Transitional Federal Government participated in the review at an important moment of the transition, and committed to a series of actions to improve the human rights situation. The establishment of the Human Rights Commission was raised by many member states as a crucial step and Somalia promised to implement.