The Equality & Human Rights Commission News

Information on recent events

 

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Press Release: Sex Offences (February 2019)

This week’s verdicts and subsequent sentencing in the St Helena Supreme Court have clearly demonstrated that no matter how long ago and no matter who the perpetrator is, the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service will listen to the victims and take them seriously and with care. The case that went to trial established that a jury will decide a case on the facts not personalities or social status. As Judge Patrick Thomas QC said:

…how impressed I am as a judge who has over many years taken part in many jury trials by the focus and diligence of the jury of islanders who heard your case and judged you impartially and without fear or favour.

The EHRC applauds the bravery and strength of the women who came forward and urges anyone who has suffered a sexual assault to do the same.

You can contact the Police on 22626 or the EHRC on 22133.

You have a Right to be heard

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Prison Inquiry 2018: Report Published (December 2018)

In March 2018 the Equality & Human Rights Commission, having noted reports concerning conditions at the Her Majesty’s Prison Jamestown St Helena, decided to conduct an inquiry in accordance with Section 15 of the Equality & Human Rights Ordinance 2015. This gives the Commission the power to conduct an inquiry into a matter relating to any of its duties.

The inquiry was carried out as detailed in procedures set out in Schedule 2 of the Ordinance.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published the final report of this inquiry on 3rd December 2018. You can download a copy here or from our page Documents.

A printed copy can be obtained from the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s office.

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Annual Report for 2017-18 Issued (March 2018)

The Equality & Human Rights Commission has issued its Annual Report for 2017-18. The document discusses what the Commission did in the year and its plans for the future. It is a detailed report full of useful statistics, and can be read/downloaded from the Documents page.

Also issued at the same time is an article about the right to water. This is on the Articles page.

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Equality & Human Rights Commission inquiry into the condition of detention at Her Majesty’s Prison, Jamestown, St Helena (March 2018)

Introduction

The Equality & Human Rights Commission, having noted reports concerning conditions at the Her Majesty’s Prison Jamestown, St Helena, has decided to conduct an inquiry. This is in accordance with Section 15 of the Equality & Human Rights Ordinance 2015, under which the Commission may conduct an inquiry into a matter relating to any of its duties. The inquiry will be carried out as detailed in procedures set out in Schedule 2 of the Ordinance.

Scope of the Inquiry

The Commission will examine the human rights of prisoners, with a particular focus on their conditions of detention. It will consider a number of areas, including, among others:

Aims

The purpose of the inquiry is to assess the conditions of detention in the prison against relevant human rights standards, including:

A final report, including recommendations will be published by the Commission and made publicly available. Copies of the report will be submitted, to St Helena Government, the United Kingdom Government and the United Nations, pursuant to the Commission’s functions as a National Human Rights Institutions operating in accordance with the provision of the United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/134 (the Paris Principles).

Time Scales

The inquiry begins on 19th March 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by 11th May 2018.

Members of the public, with relevant experience of the prison are welcome to meet with the Inquiry Panel to give evidence. All information will be treated in confidence.

For an appointment with the Panel, further information and/or a copy of the full Terms of Reference of the Inquiry please contact Mrs Carol Thompson, Executive Manager, Equality & Human Rights Commission, on Tel (+290) 22133 or email admin@humanrightssthelena.org [or download it here].

Catherine Harris Cranfield
Chair of Commissioners

You can download a copy of this release.

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Website Re-launched (January 2018)

In October 2016 the E&HRC experimented with a different website solution, but sadly this did not work out as we hoped so we have returned to the site maintained for us by Burgh House Software (part of Burgh House Limited).

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Office officially opened (December 2015)

The Equality & Human Rights Office was officially opened in a short ceremony on 10th December 2015 (to coincide with International Human Rights Day).

Guests present included His Excellency the Acting Governor, Mr. Sean Burns; Equality & Human Rights Commissioners; Councillors and others.

Chair of the Commission, Mrs. Cathy Hopkins delivered a short speech, as below, and the ribbon was cut by Mr. Basil George who declared the office officially open.

Speech by Chair of the Commission, Mrs. Cathy Hopkins:

Your Excellency, invited guests, fellow Commissioners - today marks a milestone for St. Helena so a very warm welcome.

After almost exactly seven years of work, the Island has a National Human Rights Institution in the form of the Equality & Human Rights Commission. The work really started before that when awareness of our right to be British citizens was taken away from us and the Citizenship Commission took on the task of battling to have the right restored. Hence our choice of Mr. Basil George former Chairman of the Citizenship Commission to perform the Opening of the EHRC office.

The past seven years have seen awareness of rights and the responsibilities which come with those rights increase among all sectors of our community, and this has been in large part due to the hard work of the Human Rights Capacity Building Committee and the Human Rights Facilitator, and the more recent support of the Social & Community Development Committee which oversaw the legislation which has led to the establishment of the EHRC as a statutory body.

It is both a privilege and a huge responsibility to be a Commissioner and all of us are engaged in a steep learning curve to equip ourselves to fulfil the work we are tasked with as an Independent body.

The Commission operates an open door policy, we operate on the basis of absolute confidentiality, we will continue to raise awareness of rights and responsibilities, we will undertake investigations as and when we identify rights issues.

Since being appointed Commissioners, we have met weekly to undergo training led by the CEO Mrs. Catherine Turner; we see this training as ongoing. We have already responded to approaches from the public and there are several investigations in progress; we expect the office to be as busy as it has been over the past few years if not busier.

St. Helena was the first Overseas Territory to receive training under the initial Commonwealth Foundation and DFID supported project, it was the first to prepare and adopt a National Human Rights Action Plan and, I suspect we may be the first to establish a National Human Rights Commission. If this is the case, then it is something of which we should be justly proud. I hope that over the next decade St. Helena will be able to be as proud of her work to uphold Equality & Human Rights for all of her community.

I am not going to try to say thank you to individuals as far too many people have been involved in the work leading up to the establishment of the EHRC but will simply say a very sincere thank you to everyone who has played their part along the way.

I should now like to invite Mr. Basil George former Chairman of the Citizenship Commission and advocate for not only our Citizenship Rights but for Human Rights as a whole, if he will cut the ribbon and formally declare the EHRC Office & Commission open for business.

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Equality & Human Rights Commission starts 1st August (July 2015)

The bill creating the Equality & Human Rights Commission was passed by LegCo{1} on 8th July 2015. This formalises the structure and operation of the new Equality & Human Rights Commission for St. Helena. You can read more about the new Commission on our Articles page.

It is currently expected that the Governor will promptly sign the bill into law, and that the Equality & Human Rights Commission will commence work on 1st August 2015.

The Commission’s new logo is as shown below.

Equality & Human Rights Commission logo The Equality & Human Rights Commission The Equality & Human Rights Commission News

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Retired news items can be read on the ‘News Archives’ page.

Footnotes:
{1} ‘Legislative Council’, effectively the island’s parliament.


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