Move to bridge gap between civil societies, governments

By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief

Forum to ensure significance of national human rights institutions adhering to the Paris Principles
Muscat With an aim to bridge the gap between civil societies and governments in the region, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Oman will host the second Gulf Forum of National Institutions for Human Rights on Sunday and Monday at the Grand Hyatt Muscat.

“The idea behind the Gulf forum is to disseminate and promote human rights culture in the region,” Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Riyami, Chairman of NHRC in Oman, said during a media briefing Saturday to announce the forum.

He added that the forum will ensure the significance of national human rights institutions adhering to the Paris Principles.
According to Al Riyami, the forum will focus, among other topics, on the role of Civil Society Institutions in increasing awareness and promoting the concepts of human rights.
Experts from National Human Rights Commissions in the Gulf and other Arab states will take part in the Forum along with representatives from the Higher Commissioner of Human Rights, the International Coordinating Committee and the International Labour Organisation.
Talking about creating awareness about human rights in the GCC member-states, the NHRC Chairman pointed out that without the cooperation of media and civil societies it would be difficult to promote and disseminate human rights culture in the region.
He called upon media to investigate reports of human rights.
“We are an advisory body and we cannot enforce law,” he said, in reply to a question but stressed that in Oman the government as well as private sector cooperates fully with the NHRC.
Asked if the government funded body (NHRC) finds it difficult to point a finger at the government violation of human rights, he said: “We are funded not founded by government but by the Sultan under a Royal Decree.”
However, he reiterated commission’s freedom saying: “that [funding] doesn't undermine our independence because we are all subject to rule of law.”
He also pointed out that most complaints to the commission so far had no basis for human rights violations.
The commission, he further pointed out, “has been established to protect the human rights of citizens and expats living in Oman as well as advising specialised entities on issues concerning their rights..