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The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has urged the government to improve the budgetary allocation to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to enable it to work more efficiently.

In a report on the commission laid before the House, the committee said that would "enable the commission to improve the conditions of service of its staff and also attract and retain its skilled personnel for better service delivery".

The report noted that the commission continued to grapple with a number of challenges which had the tendency of undermining the effective discharge of its mandate. Notable amongst these challenges are; severe resource constraints, poor conditions of service and high turnover of skilled personnel and other high calibre staff of the commission," the report noted. It said, for instance, during the year under review, the institution lost 10 of its "limited number" of lawyers to other sister institutions with more attractive conditions of service, adding that currently the commission had only 20 lawyers at post.

According to the report, since its inception, the commission had always operated with budgetary constraints and ceilings imposed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. It said that challenge had always made it extremely difficult for the commission to implement a number of planned programmes and activities.

"The committee further identified the delay in release of funds by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning especially during the last quarter of the year," the report noted, and said that had continuously undermined the commission's efforts over the years in implementing its programme of activities on schedule.

"This difficulty finds expression in the delay in publishing and presenting the commission's annual report to Parliament within time," the report said. The committee, however, noted that in spite of the constraints confronting CHRAJ, the commission continues to deliver on its mandate and was able to settle 80 per cent of the 14,953 cases it received within the year. The report said cases ranged from human rights, administrative justice to corruption.

It said in all, human rights-related cases accounted for 13,249, representing 88.6 per cent of the total number of cases. It also indicated that administrative justice and corruption-related cases were 1,671 and 33 representing 11.2 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. The report also indicated that children's rights-related cases recorded a total of 6,118 representing 41 per cent of the overall sum of' complaints received while women's rights-related cases accounted for 1,270 representing 8.5 per cent.

"It is also gratifying to note that the commission was able to successfully draft a code of conduct to guide public officials in the discharge of their duties," it stated, adding that the code was intended to institutionalise response to conflict of interest and challenges confronting private persons and public officials in the discharge of their duties.
Source: Daily Graphic

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