As part of its on-going efforts to reach out to external partners and relevant human rights institutions, Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC) held a series of strategic meetings with representatives of the South African Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg including SAHRC Chairperson Professor Bongani Christopher Majola and Commissioner Mohamed Ameermia.
The LI delegation, led by the LI HRC Chair Markus Loening, raised a number of questions relating to the mandate of the Commission, its complaints handling and advocacy mechanisms and its relationship with the South African Parliament. Stressing on the importance of the visit Loening said: “As the only political international with a specifically designated Human Rights Committee, LI is tirelessly working to promote and advance a variety of fundamental human rights issues and reaching out to institutions such as SAHRC forms a fundamental part of our work.”
Loening was joined by a number of LI HRC Members including LI Vice-President on the Bureau Abir Al-Sahlani, the Chair of Radikale Vesntre’s International Relations Committee Charlotte Burgess, the Chair of the LI British Group Philip Bennion, Chair of LI LGBTI Rights Working Group Frank van Dalen and the Information Officer of the Swedish International Liberal Centre Asa Soderstrom. Sharing her experience as a former Member of the Swedish Parliament, Al-Sahlani drew attention to the fact that while human rights issues are in fact streamlined into the Swedish political framework, the UN Charter is yet to be incorporated into the Swedish human rights legislation. The LI VP also drew parallel comparisons between Europe and South Africa pointing out that soft human rights issues such as hidden discrimination have been steadily on the rise.
Chairperson Majola and Commissioner Ameermia impressed with their presentations on the independence and transparency of the work of the Commission not least in light of the shrinking civil society space in South Africa and the ongoing financial challenges the Commission faces in its daily work. In an appeal for better protection of civil and political rights around the world, Professor Majola emphasized on the need to better intertwine such rights into the global human rights approach.
In his concluding remarks, SAHRC Commissioner for Older People and People with Disabilities Bokankatla Malatji stressed on the value of external engagements such as the one with Liberal International Human Rights Committee “as these provide the South African Human Rights Commission with a great opportunity to create greater awareness for the Commission’s work and global efforts to prevent human rights violations more generally.”
The LI HRC study tour took part on the fringes of the 199th LI Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa and featured 25 delegates from around 10 different countries.