Training on National Inquiries
The Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (CFNHRI) in partnership with the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) and the Australian Human Rights Commission organised a workshop on running effective national inquiries from 19-21 March, 2013 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The primary aim of the training was to develop the capacity of the HRCSL to establish and conduct effective national inquiries into serious and systematic human rights issues.
The workshop was attended by Commissioners and HRCSL staff from all regional offices. Key stakeholders and members of civil society including non-government organisations, representatives of the media and also community based organisations were also invited to participate. Stakeholder participation is critical to the success of a national inquiry, it was therefore considered important to include key stakeholders in the training to facilitate dialogue and strengthen the relationship between the HRCSL and relevant stakeholders.
The program included training and discussion on the necessary steps to conduct a national inquiry. Topics included:
- An overview of the national inquiry process including the national inquiry as a tool for human rights education
- Planning a national inquiry including: choosing the issue, identifying stakeholders, preparing the scoping paper, drafting the objectives and terms of reference, selecting and appointing the inquiry Commissioners and staff, resourcing an inquiry and planning the methodology and timeline
- Exploring partnerships and stakeholder engagement
- Data collection and information gathering
- Conducting public hearings
- Evaluating the evidence
- Developing recommendations and report writing
- Strategies for implementation and follow up.
Sessions included presentations, discussions and group work to facilitate the sharing of ideas and experiences among participants. Examples of ‘best practice’ from national human rights institutions in different parts of the world were also discussed and examined.
A major priority for the HRCSL was to see action from the Bumbuna Public Inquiry, time was therefore spent in groups discussing follow up strategies for implementation of the recommendations from Bumbuna.
For more information on national inquiries see:
- Asia Pacific Forum and Raoul Wallenberg Institute (2012). Manual on Conducting a National Inquiry into Systemic Patterns of Human Rights Violation
- Asia Pacific Forum (2013). Going Public: Strategies for an Effective National Inquiry (video)
The workshop was funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through its support of the Australian Human Rights Commission as the current Chair of the CFNHRI.