July 14, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
With financial support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is implementing a project to support the institutional capacity development of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL).
The objectives of the project are to assist the HRCSL generate a systematic understanding of its existing capacity strengths and gaps in fulfilling its mandate, generate an understanding of any gaps it has in complying with the Paris Principles, understand its stakeholders’ perspectives on the capacity of the commission, among others.
The commission’s acting Public Information Officer, Ishmael Bayoh, told Concord Times that all National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) – new and old – will always have the challenge of going through a capacity development process because, according to him, they cannot undertake an effective capacity development process without first conducting a full appraisal of its capacity.
“This is best done through a frank internal assessment of its strength and weaknesses. It is therefore important that a NHRI should conduct a thorough self-assessment to identify its capacity needs/gaps. Such assessment can be done by the commission itself if it has the capacity or with the assistance of a team of external experts,” he stated.
Mr. Bayoh disclosed that they have commissioned a lead consultant, Ugandan-born Aliro Omara, to work with Gilbert Sebihogo, Orla Kelly and Abraham John (a team drawn from NANHRI, OHCHR and UNDP) as facilitators to assist the commission undertake a self-assessment process by which it can assess its own capacities and identify, discuss and prioritize its capacity development needs.
He noted that at the end of the process, the team will – in close consultation with the commission – produce an analytical report measuring the required future capacities of HRCSL against its current capacities, and also provide relevant recommendations to them consisting of strategies that it may wish to adopt to address the identified capacity gaps.
“The capacity assessment process and report are expected to complement our strategic planning, priority setting and work plan processes,” he said. “The potential benefits of the capacity self-assessment are that the result will provide useful information that can assist the commission in designing and implementing its capacity development strategies as the assessment is expected to systematically reveal the strengths and needs of the commission.”
He ended up by stressing that the process will also determine and document any negative variance between the commission’s current legal framework, institutional arrangements and current functional capacities with reference to the Paris Principles and the General Observations of the ICC Sub-committee on Accreditation.