The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is an international non-governmental organisation formed to support Human Rightsand particularly to support the implementation of the Harare Declaration in the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The CHRI was founded in 1987 by six existing commonwealth NGOs: the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Commonwealth Legal Education Association, Commonwealth Journalists Association, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Commonwealth Press Union and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. Since then it has provided thematic human rights reports every two years to each Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It is officially accredited to the Commonwealth and also has observer status to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The CHRI is a member of the Commonwealth Family network of NGOs.
The current patrons of the CHRI are the former Canadian Foreign Minister, Flora MacDonald, and the former Bangladesh Minister of Law, Kamal Hossain.
The headquarters was in London until 1993 when the head office moved to New Delhi. In 2001 a regional office was opened in Accra, Ghana
I am currently Project Lead- Mumbai for Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. One of our focus areas is'Access to Justice to Women and Children ' and Police Reforms. Learning and hearing of more experiences from around the networks of the world on Rights Issues and ground level activism to empower citizens.
Gideon Neequaye is a self- motivated, result oriented and a team player with good interpersonal and communicative skills. He has the ability to deal with people from different cultural backgrounds and can easily fit into any environment. Gideon holds a degree in Social Work and Sociology from the University of Ghana, Legon and a certificate in Paralegal. He is very hard working and ever ready to learn to achieve new heights. Gideon has over 8 years working experience in various capacities; He is currently the Project Officer on Access to Justice, at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa Office. He also assists the office and its programmes which include Access to Justice and Human Rights Monitoring. Gideon successfully assisted the implementation of several projects including: 1. Promoting improved Access to Justice for the poor and indigent pre-trial detainees. 2. Building up a public demand for the passage and effective implementation of an RTI Law in Ghana
I am the Programme Head of the Prison Reforms Programme. I am a lawyer with an LL.M. in Criminal Justice from the University of Nottingham, UK. I have been associated with CHRI since 2008, and have published numerous studies, reports and resource materials on issues relating to prisoners and the criminal justice system. The primary focus area of my work has been to target unnecessary and prolonged detention of unsentenced prisoners and work towards systemic interventions to prevent it and undertake initiatives to ensure effective access to legal aid for persons in custody, and work towards protection of rights of vulnerable groups in prison including prisoners with mental illness, foreign national prisoners etc.
A barrister by training, Maja Daruwala is the executive director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) which is based in New Delhi with offices in London, UK and Accra, Ghana. CHRI promotes the practical realization of human rights in the Commonwealth’s 53 countries and focuses particularly on issues relating to accountability, transparency, and participation. Its present areas of specialization are access to justice and access to information. CHRI promotes police and prison reform and seeks to ensure citizens are guaranteed the right to access government-held information.
Lawyer invested in reforming the criminal justice system through extensive data collection and analysis on existing policies, capacity building of CJS actors and raising awareness. Special focus on prison monitoring and prisoners with special needs such as foreign detainees, asylum seekers and juveniles.
My engagement in the human rights field has been long and largely motivated by the works of Paulo Friere, Gramsci, Gandhi and Fanon. I was deeply involved in human rights education in Indian universities for many years, with new social movements and policy research. They provided me the opportunity to understand the political motivation and emotional universe of students, activists, leaders across the ideological spectrum, tools of change and above all, the struggle for democracy, equality and dignity. I maintain deep interest in ways to improve advocacy to help institutionalise the rule of law, and in particular, the rights of prisoners, which comes from having worked with human rights organisations like Amnesty International and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. I hope to share some of the insights gained through my interactions with university youth, social movement representatives, media workers, criminal justice actors, other government actors and prisoners, and hope in turn to to be enlightened by the participants of this online platform about the diverse ways by which they are generating accountability and transforming their socio-political contexts. and was lucky to interview several leaders and members across ten social movement organisations (SMOs) in India, both party and non-party that gave incomparable learnings on democracy, leadership, organisational goals, tools of change, and above all, the emotional universe of activists and change makers.
I'm a lawyer and a researcher, working in the field of human rights, particularly, Access to Justice programme. The updates will help me in my work.
I'm responsible for CHRI's international human rights advocacy. While my academic background is in history, international relations and development studies, I have been closely following developments in Sri Lanka since the end of civil war in 2009 and Transitional Justice. Lately, my focus has expanded to SDGs and especially SDG 16 which spotlights access to justice, rule of law , accountability and transparency. I'm also involved in conversations around the ominous phenomenon of shrinking spaces for civil society across the globe but more specifically in India and South Asia. I'm looking forward to learning and interacting with fellow network members on issues of mutual concern. I'm keen to explore new avenues and strategies for advocacy and build partnerships to amplify the voice of civil society.