Giant leap for human rights in Mozambique

Commissioners finally sworn in by President Guebuza

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

September 6th, 2012

At long last, Mozambique has a functioning National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). Created by the National Assembly back in 2009 to promote and defend human rights, the first commissioners were finally been sworn in by President Armando Guebuza on Wednesday.

The CNDH consists of 11 members – 3 elected by political parties who hold seats in the Assembly, 4 chosen by civil society, 3 appointed by the Prime Minister, and 1 selected by the Mozambique Bar Association.

The chairperson of the Commission is Custodio Duma – a prominent human rights lawyer and former participant in OSISA’s Brazil Human Rights Fellowship programme – who was appointed by the Bar Association.

Representatives from the Mozambican Law Society, the Mozambican Human Rights League, the Women’s Lawyers Association and Eduardo Mondlane Legal Aid Clinic/Centre for Human Rights – all of whom are current or former OSISA’s grantees – were also sworn in as commissioners.

“The National Human Rights Commission is the highest human rights oversight body in Mozambique and derives its mandate from the Constitution,” said Leopoldo de Amaral, OSISA’s Human Rights Programme Manager. “It will have the power to probe alleged human rights violations, including summoning political office bearers to answer questions, and to issue recommendations on human rights matters.”

Speaking at the swearing in ceremony, Guebuza said that human rights have been enshrined in every Mozambican constitution since independence in 1975. He added that the CNDH was an important step in entrenching the rule of law and that the commissioners had a major role to play in guaranteeing respect for the constitution and for the fundamental rights of citizens.

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