By Omar Bah
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has spent D30 million on salaries in 2019.
In its 2019 report submitted to the National Assembly last Friday, NHRC highlighted that “the total budget for government funding for the year 2019 was D66.88 million. This amount comprised a total salary estimate of D30 million and D36.88 million estimated for recurrent expenditure”.
The D66.88 million was allocated in the Ministry of Justice’s 2019 budget.
According to the report, the commission started becoming financially operational following the appointment of the five commissioners in February 2019.
“From August to December 2019, after the Commission’s bank accounts were opened and operational, the NHRC received D20.6 million from government. Before the recruitment of the secretariat staff for the setting up of the office however, the commission, being a subvented entity under the Ministry of Justice, had its expenses being paid directly by the ministry between February and August 2019,” the NHRC said.
The NHRC added: “Of the 2019 expenditure from government funds, D16.6 million, centred mostly on the implementation of some key activities, recruitment of staff, furnishing and equipping the secretariat office to make it adequately operational, vehicles for the operations and funds committed towards the design and construction of the commission’s website”.
According to the report, the commission also used D4,000,000 to purchase vehicles for the five commissioners.
The NHRC also received D6,926,709 from UN (mainly UNDP and OHCCHR) in 2019 in setting up the secretariat and in the funding of some activities, through the UN Transitional Justice Project under the Peace Building Fund (PBF).
The funds were used to conduct initial stakeholders meeting- D58,100; training of CSOs on human rights-D132,250; training of police- D151,200; regional introductory meetings-D166,550; one-year office rent-D1,754,204; communication and audio-visual equipment-D964,440; equipment and furniture-D716,661; and D2,983,304 on travels.
The commission said it received five complaints ranging from unlawful termination of contract of employment, discrimination and childcare from September to December last year.
The NHRC is mandated by sections 12 (b) and 13 (2) (a) of NHRC Act 2017 to receive and hear complaints of human rights violations that fall within its jurisdiction.
“Three out of the five complaints received were declared inadmissible for having failed to meet the admissibility criteria set out in section 24 of the NHRC Act 2017 and Rule 10 of its Rules of Procedure on Complaints handling and the complainants were advised to pursue their claims before the industrial tribunal and the superior courts. One of the complaints was resolved while the fifth complaint is pending before the commission. The commission has also initiated two investigations into allegations of torture while under police custody leading to death against the Anti-Crime Unit as well as discriminatory practices in certain communities in the URR,” the NHRC said.