CHRI's work to promote the practical realisation of Human Rights in the countries of the Commonwealth focuses on building and reforming systems of governance which are essential for the protection and promotion of Human Rights. This work is split into two core themes: Access to Information and Access to Justice, which includes Prison and Police Reform. CHRI additionally works to monitor the Human Rights situation across the Commonwealth and, through our Strategic Initiatives Programme, we engage in advocacy at the global level and make formal submissions to treaty bodies and inter-governmental agencies, including the United Nations Human Rights Council.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
CHRI believes that the Right to Information is fundamental to the realisation of economic and social rights as well as civil and political rights. Informed participation by all must therefore be guaranteed through increased access to public information.
CHRI believes that the right to information must be guaranteed by a strong legislation and the process of law-making itself must be participatory and informed by the realities of the community concerned.
CHRI works to raise public awareness about the value of the right to information. It collaborates with community based groups, catalyses the development of networks of concerned civil society organisations and seeks out the specific information needs of the people and communicates them to policy makers in various ways.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
The extremes of poverty and wealth and the extreme power chasm between citizens and those in power has led to unbalanced, corrupt, power-hungry, decrepit and failing justice systems in many of the Commonwealth countries. Without a fair and effective justice system, democracy fails.
People must know about their rights; once they do, they must receive justice for crimes committed against them. This becomes even more crucial when authoritarian forces in charge do not act with integrity, honesty and fair practices toward their citizens. In order to combat this lack of justice, CHRI works towards developing accountability for the powers-to-be in two main areas: police and prison reforms.
These two crucial areas ensure that citizens are not unjustly arrested, tried, manhandled, bullied or tortured by corrupt police forces. Underpaid and under-resourced forces become greedy, corrupt and thus penalise the poor for their very existence. The politics that go hand-in-hand with this has often led to unfair practices towards those without means. For the millions of people, this system has already swallowed into overcrowded, understaffed and unhygienic prisons, CHRI raises its voice. This traditionally closed system needs to be exposed to the scrutinising eyes of the public. CHRI works to help develop infrastructure to uphold the rights of pre-trial detention prisoners and long prison over-stays.
By increasing accountability and transparency and lobbying governments to take greater notice of the justice systems that are supposed to protect their citizens, not harm them, CHRI works to right these wrongs.
The strategic Initiatives Programme (SIP) oversees CHRI’s broad mandate of working for the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth. While other programmes in CHRI deal with fixed thematic areas, SIP operates through several strategic interventions that would together help have a positive impact on human rights in the Commonwealth and complement the work of other programmes.