Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean and Ombudsman of Namibia, John Walters in discussion during the Colloquium on the Establishment of a National Human Rights Institution at the Accra Beach Hotel on Wednesday. (G. Brewster/BGIS)
Establishing a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) demonstrates that Government is committed to ensuring that Barbadians have legal redress when their human rights have been violated.
Declaring that this also signals Government’s determination to create an institutional framework designed to reduce abuses, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean said that having an NHRI would protect the fundamental human rights of all who reside within Barbados’ borders.
She was speaking yesterday at the start of a two-day Colloquium on the Establishment of a National Human Rights Institution at the Accra Beach Hotel, Christ Church.
Hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat, several high-level representatives from various ministries and government departments, including Ombudsman of Barbados, Valton Bend, attended the workshop.
Senator McClean told those gathered that one of the key recommendations coming from Barbados’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2008 was the suggestion for this island to create an NHRI in accordance with the Paris Principles.
She explained that the human rights situation of UN Member states was reviewed every four years in the UPR progress and that recommendations were given to each country so as to improve their human rights regulations.
"The Government of Barbados accepted that recommendation and it is for that reason that we have convened here today – to examine best practices from other states and to develop a strategy for creating an NHRI by using Barbados’ existing structures and resources," she pointed out, also stating that the assistance rendered by the Commonwealth Secretariat to Barbados in the development of an NHRI was invaluable.
The Foreign Affairs Minister continued: "In Barbados, we have enjoyed constitutionally protected human rights for nearly half a century. We have rested easily in the knowledge that the High Courts provide an avenue for redress in instances where those rights are infringed.
"However, as a maturing democracy, Barbados must move beyond mechanisms which are purely remedial, to establish institutions that are also developmental," she stressed.
Noting that strengthening the island’s human rights protection was a critical step in enhancing the lives of every citizen and resident in the country, Minister McClean emphasised: "It is a step that we are proud to take and one which brings us even closer to our ultimate development goals."