CHRI is an independent, non-partisan, international non- governmental organization. We work for the practical realisation of human rights of ordinary people in the Commonwealth. CHRI promotes awareness of and adherence to the Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other internationally recognized human rights instruments and declarations made by Commonwealth heads of governments, as well as other instruments supporting human rights in the Commonwealth. CHRI believes that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active informed participation of civil society is also vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights.
CHRI has offices in Ghana and New Delhi, where it is headquartered. It has a small liaison office in London as well. CHRI's work is based on relevant legal knowledge, strong research, and dissemination of information to both civil society and governments. Policy level dialogue, capacity building of stakeholders, and broad public education are standard activities. As an organisation our endeavour is to be one of the best South-based resources on policing and access to information.
CHRI's work is divided into three major programme areas: Access to Justice (police reforms and prison reforms), Access to Information, and Strategic Initiatives. CHRI also has a small Media, Outreach and Communications Unit.
Access to Justice
Police Reforms: In too many countries the police are seen as an oppressive instrument of state rather than as protectors of citizens’ rights, leading to widespread rights violations and denial of justice. CHRI promotes systemic reform so that the police act as upholders of the rule of law rather than as instruments of the current regime. In India, CHRI’s programme aims at mobilising public support for police reform. In South Asia, CHRI works to strengthen civil society engagement on police reforms. In East Africa and Ghana, CHRI is examining police accountability issues and political interference.
Prison Reforms: CHRI’s work is focused on increasing transparency of a traditionally closed system and exposing malpractices. A major area is focussed on highlighting failures of the legal system that result in terrible overcrowding and unconscionably long pre-trial detention and prison overstays, and engaging in interventions to ease this. Another area of concentration is aimed at reviving the prison oversight systems that have completely failed. We believe that attention to these areas will bring improvements to the administration of prisons as well as have a knock-on effect on the administration of justice overall.
Access to Information
CHRI is acknowledged as one of the main organisations working to promote access to information across the Commonwealth. It encourages countries to pass and implement effective right to information laws. We routinely assist in the development of legislation and have been particularly successful in promoting right to information in India, Bangladesh and Ghana where we are the Secretariat for the RTI civil society coalition. We regularly critique new bills and intervene to bring best practices into governments and civil society knowledge both in the time when laws are being formulated and when they are first being implemented. Our experience of working across culturally varied jurisdictions, even in hostile environments, allows CHRI to bring valuable insights into countries seeking to evolve and implement new laws on right to information. Where there is no right to information law, we promote knowledge about the value of access to information which is guaranteed by law while at the same time pushing for introduction of an effective and progressive law. As and when the access to information law comes into being, we work to build public knowledge in parallel with monitoring the law and using it in ways which indicate impact of the law on system accountability – most particularly in the area of policing and the working of the criminal justice system.
CHRI monitors member states’ compliance with human rights obligations and advocates around human rights exigencies where such obligations are breached. CHRI strategically engages with regional and international bodies including the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the UN and the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights. Ongoing strategic initiatives include: Advocating for and monitoring the Commonwealth’s reform; Reviewing Commonwealth countries’ human rights promises at the UN Human Rights Council and engaging with its Universal Periodic Review; Advocating for the protection of human rights defenders and civil society space; and Monitoring the performance of National Human Rights Institutions in the Commonwealth while advocating for their strengthening. The programme brings out periodic reports on the voting and human rights records of Commonwealth member states at the human rights council and their performance at the Universal Periodic Review.
Every two years, CHRI produces a report on some aspect of human rights concern common to all the countries of the Commonwealth. The last one (2015) examined civil society engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat. CHRI has run campaigns against impunity in Gambia, reported on human rights in Fiji after the coup, reported on human rights compliance in Rwanda which was seeking membership into the country, and most recently led an independent fact-finding mission (Nov 15) to look into the deterioration of democracy in the Maldives and published a report prior to the CMAG mission visit (Feb 16), and continues to monitor and engage with CMAG on the issue. Another emerging area of work is around the implementation of SDG Goal 16 (access to justice) - monitoring, participating, building networks and pushing the Commonwealth Secretariat to build stakeholder capacity across the Commonwealth for implementation.
We are keen to have committed and passionate folks come work with us to further all this work while learning, and growing and sharing their skills with us.
There are frequent internship and stipendiary opportunities at CHRI in our headquarters in Delhi, our Africa office in Accra, Ghana or liaison office in London.
Process of Applying
Please apply to firstname.lastname@example.org , with your CV, statement of purpose, references and short original writing sample of not more than 4 pages indicative of your analytical and articulation skills.
All applicants are advised to visit CHRI's website www.humanrightsinitiative.org to understand the nature of our work before applying. NOTE: Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.
Probable research areas for interns in the Delhi office - 2016
Research studies towards strengthening access to information in India
The intern will be required to assist with research for a comparative study of proactive disclosure of information on police and prison department websites in Commonwealth countries with RTI laws, and what India can learn from them. Another area of research will be to prepare our existing research database of court decisions on right to information in India for an annotated edition of the RTI Act and its web-based adaptation. Good web-based research skills are essential. Good analytical and writing skills are required as well.
Monitoring performance of India and other Commonwealth countries in the UNHRC
Human rights does not much inform foreign policy in most countries and local populations have no idea what their countries are doing in their name at the UNHRC. This project monitors and brings home the performance of Commonwealth countries at the UNHRC. CHRI periodically brings out a series called “Easier Said Than Done” that reports on the voting and human rights records of Commonwealth member states at the human rights council and their performance at the Universal Periodic Review. The intern would be required to do the research and writing for the next report. The intern may also be required to assist with research on submissions CHRI will be making to the UPR processes of Commonwealth countries under review. Skills should include strong writing and research skills with a passion for international relations and for the implementation of the Human Rights doctrine worldwide.
Research studies on accountable and democratic policing in India
The intern will assist with research on: women in police, gender policy for the police, institutional bias of the police as experienced by specific vulnerable groups, and police response to complaints of crimes against women in India. This programme requires diligent, thorough researchers with lucid writing skills.
Research studies on prison oversight and accountability in India
The intern will assist with RTI-based studies on: the implementation of legal aid schemes, the functioning of oversight mechanisms, and use of technology to check unnecessary detention.
Communicating CHRI’s research findings to a wider audience
CHRI has brought out several content rich research reports in the last year, particularly on policing in India (country specific), South Asia (regional), which lend themselves to creative presentation on various multi-media formats. This is an area where we could benefit hugely from a creative law student conversant with multi-media communication tools.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but an indicative list of probable areas of research based on current commitments. Specific tasks will be assigned taking into account the intern’s capability, interest, and the requirements of the team at the time.