Mmegi Online :: UPR concerned about Botswana’s actions
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UPR concerned about Botswana’s actions

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) NGO Working Group Press Statement on the National Human Rights Institution.
By Staff Writer Tue 22 Mar 2016, 14:58 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: UPR concerned about Botswana’s actions








The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) NGO Working Group, comprising Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO), DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Kuru Family of Organisations, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo) and MISA – Botswana Chapter and Rainbow Identity Association (RIA), are concerned that the Botswana government and the United Nations (UN) in Botswana are engaged in processes concerning the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) without the strategic engagement of civil society organisations. To date, three (3) NHRI Benchmarking Missions have been undertaken to Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania. This was done without the inclusion of civil society, as stakeholders during the preparatory processes for the Missions or as members of the delegations on the Missions.

Between 2015 and 2016 the NHRI Benchmarking Missions for delegations of the Botswana government and the UN in Botswana, were undertaken to benchmark human rights institutions in Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania. The purpose of their visits was to share lessons learned in the area of Human Rights, which will facilitate the establishment of the NHRI in Botswana.

NGOs are a part of the global human rights movement. They contribute to international, regional and national standard-setting. They also contribute to the promotion, implementation and enforcement of human rights norms. NGOs work closely with the communities and should, therefore, play a role in the preparatory processes for the creation of the NHRI - a body responsible for monitoring the state of human rights in the country. Exclusion

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of civil society, risks leading to the creation of a ‘government NHRI’, as only the government and the UN are engaged in the current critical NHRI processes. Civil society has raised these concerns with both the UN and with relevant government officials. To date, there has been little substantial response to this serious concern.

It is undisputed that NHRIs, which comply with the Paris Principles are important and can play a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level. However, the UPR NGO Working Group warned, during 2013, that the process used to establish  the NHRI tends to affect its legitimacy, levels of trust and confidence by which it is held by both Government and the people, as well as its ability to effectively carry out its mandate. The UPR NGO Working Group recognises that, it is critical that the NHRI is a product of national consultative processes from which it obtains its priorities, relevance and legitimacy. It is recognised thatNHRIs tend to be created in one of the following ways:

* As part of a large national transition e.g. South Africa and Malawi. This is the model preferred by civil society, based on the meaningful participation of Batswana,

* In response to pressure from the international community (with little consequential local legitimacy). This tends to happen in cases where reluctant governments have created NHRIs to temper disapproval and global condemnation, e.g. Indonesia.

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