The President, Network of National Human Rights Institutions (NNHRI) in West Africa, Prof. Bem Angwe on Monday called on ECOWAS Member States to allocate adequate funds to their human rights institutions.
Angwe made the call at the opening of the Annual General Assembly of the Institution in Abuja.
Angwe, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Human Rights Commission, said it was only when these institutions were adequately funded that they could perform their functions.
“It is only when the Institutions are in conformity with Paris Principles that they can secure International status at the global level,”Angwe said.
Angwe, also expressed concerns that of the 15 countries in West Africa, only six had international status at the moment.
According to him, only four of these countries had attained the “A” status making West Africa to score low in Human rights compliance parameter on a global scale.
“The rest have not even attempted to apply for such international recognition.
“Suffice it to say that the Assembly has a duty to reach resolutions that will change the face of human rights issues for the citizens of the Sub-region,’’ Angwe said.
On his part, the president, ECOWAS Commission, Mr Marcel Alain de Souza said since the establishment of the network, ECOWAS Commission had collaborated with it to strengthen human rights issues in the region.
Alain de Souza, who was represented by Mr Eyasan Okorodudu, said the Commission had also devised several mechanisms of monitoring the human right situation in the region.
“The Commission in the recent past has taken steps to improve the status of monitoring and reporting on human rights matters in the region.
“The Commission just last year set up a new reporting frame work for human rights reporting for all of our member countries institutions of the NNHRI.
“And this framework has a very holistic outlook towards the reporting of human rights especially from the perspective of the duty bearers and the right holders,’’ he said.
He further said: “We have taken time to ensure that this framework and reporting standard was well circulated among member institutions.
“The Commission has also taken time to bring the CSO members on board to look at how they can contribute and produce scheduled reports that will support the reports that we get from members of the network,’’ he said.
He also said the Commission had picked a day to observe as the ECOWAS Human Rights Day.
According to him, the date will be validated by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and Heads of States at their next meeting.
Mr Andrea Ori, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for West Africa urged the network to pay more attention to rights issues in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights wishes to take the opportunity of this General Assembly to encourage NHRI to pay more attention to the protection of economic, social and cultural rights,’’ he said.
Ori said the UN was seeking to help national human rights institutions move towards greater integrity, legitimacy and effectiveness in spite of the social, political, economic and cultural factors affecting them.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the NNHRI in West Africa was established for the protection and promotion of human rights in ECOWAS member states.