KPIs on Suhakam commissioners should be transparent

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 17 May 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Two human rights non-governmental organisations have called on the government to make transparent the process of assessing Suhakam commissioners by a Key Performance Index (KPI) when it asks Parliament to delete two other clauses in the newly passed Suhakam (Amendment) Act 2009.

“The KPI is a good idea but what are the indicators?” asked Suaram coordinator John Liu.

“The process and the indicators should be transparent and made public. They should not be a stumbling block and lead to possible self-censorship in the performance of their duties.”

Empower member Honey Tan was not convinced the KPI as envisaged in Section 5(5) of the amendment Act was the way to go.

“Suhakam is not a company where one can look at sales targets, cutting down expenses and improving profits.

“However, if the Government feels that it must go down this route, it is important to ‘measure’, among other things, how pro-active commissioners are, for example, in observing and monitoring situations of arrests when our fundamental liberty of peaceful assembly are violated.

“Not a single commissioner came on the night of May 7, 2009, in Brickfields, when 14 members of civil society were arrested, along with five lawyers and a reporter.”

Liu and Tan said this when asked to comment on the recent statement by de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz that two other amendments would be tabled before Parliament at the June meeting to make the Suhakam Act compliant with the Paris Principles but had made no mention of the KPI clause.

Nazri said Suhakam faced losing its ‘A’ status otherwise.

He said the accreditation sub-committee of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights had found the March amendments still falling short.

On April 17, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman told The Star that Suhakam had not known about the KPI clause.

Asking for the KPIs to be made clear, human rights-related and public, he noted: “You can’t deny the Government has been shown to contravene human rights principles and it is the duty of commissioners to raise this.

“The KPIs should assess a commissioner’s performance and not restrict his function as a commissioner.”

The Paris Principles are a set of core basic recommendations adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 on the status and functioning of national human rights institutions.

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