Fact Finding Missions

CHRI's international agenda includes fact finding missions that serve to monitor gross violations of human rights in specific Commonwealth countries and, finally, to suggest solutions that will repair the situation and restore stability, the rule of law and human rights. On invitation from civil society in a Commonwealth country where events have brought into doubt the protection of human rights, CHRI can sponsor an investigative Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to travel to that country.

CHRI's earlier fact finding missions were sent to study the situation in Nigeria; Zambia; Fiji and Sierra Leone. CHRI proposes to undertake other such missions in the future, especially to study local conditions in countries seeking first time entry into the Commonwealth. The brief for investigations in these countries includes a review of their human rights record and whether national legislation is in keeping the international standards and the Harare Principles.

Fact finding missions also study local conditions in countries seeking first time entry into the Commonwealth. This centralises the importance of human rights as a basic criterion for membership in the Commonwealth.

CHRI's first fact-finding mission in 1995 investigated human rights violations in Nigeria after the democratically elected regime was overthrown by a coup. Its reports, Nigeria: Stolen by Generals, is widely acknowledged for bringing considerable pressure to bear on Nigerian authorities to make an early return to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In follow up actions, CHRI has continued to make interventions and submissions to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

Just prior to the second multiparty elections in September 1996, CHRI undertook a second fact finding mission to Zambia in response to an invitation from the Law Association of Zambia, the Zambia Independent Media Association, and the Law Resources Foundation. CHRI examined the situation of civil and political rights and advocated for Commonwealth support to assist Zambia in the context of its fragile democracy. CHRI brought out a report, Zambia, Democracy on Trial as a result of its findings.