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Review of NCHR is in order

Aug 18,2019 - Last updated at Aug 18,2019

A Royal Decree has been issued recently approving the government's decision to reconstitute the board of trustees of the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR). The board is made up of 21 personalities, including seven women.

The first comment on the new board is about the number of its members! There is fear that the large composition of the board may impede its work rather than improve it and make it more efficient. Besides, large membership entails additional expense to the government, which fully funds the centre at a time when the government aims to reduce its financial burdens and lower its deficit.

The second observation is about the limited number of women on the board at a time when women’s rights should occupy half of the centre’s agenda. Women rights are now more pronounced and pressing than ever regionally and internationally, and who knows more about the plight, suffering and rights of women than women themselves!

In addition, if the deliberations of the board are pivotal for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Kingdom, the jurisdiction and mandate of the board members should be also expanded and strengthened. It is, indeed, overdue to amend the rules and mandate of the NCHR as a matter of high priority in order for it to become more effective in addressing human rights issues facing the country.

As is, the centre is no longer cost-effective, even though its budget has expanded a great deal. The NCHR started out with a skeleton-staff and now it is a large bureaucracy with a hefty budget.

In a nutshell, the government is called upon to review many dimensions related to the centre that are much more pressing.

Hopefully, the new members will be the instrument for a broad review of all aspects related to the centre as an item on the top of its agenda. Hopefully, the NCHR will accord economic and social rights equal attention and scrutiny that are being accorded to political and civil rights.

Meanwhile, we can only express our best wishes for the new board, hoping that it will succeed in uplifting the level of human rights in the country in a fair and balanced manner.

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