History

In 1999, The United Kingdom in its white paper on the overseas territories reaffirmed its commitment to the establishment and maintenance of high standards for the observance of human rights. One of the UK's priorities was to encourage all the populated territories to agree to the extension of the European Convention on Human Rights and to accept the Six Core United Nations Humans Rights Convention and to ensure that each Territory met its obligations under the various international conventions.

In 2003, the Human Rights Committee was established by Executive Council, a Director and members were appointed, but no Terms of Reference were ever determined. It was not until the Turks and Caicos Islands amended Constitution Order 2006 came into force that the Human Rights Committee was re-established during the summer of 2007. The amended Constitution Order dedicated an entire chapter to the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual and was placed to the forefront as Part 1 of the Constitution. The previous Constitutions did not cover for all the rights under the different International Conventions and some of the Constitutional provisions protecting individual rights lacked certain procedural guarantees. The new Fundamental Rights Chapter provided a more comprehensive legal framework. For example it provided a more inclusive framework in respect of the scope of the right and its procedural guarantees.

The re-established Human Rights Committee, armed with the amended Constitution Order, sought to redefine the Committee’s role and determine its Terms of Reference as a matter of priority. In late 2007, the body was changed and became known as the Human Rights Commission, and continued to work under the existing terms of reference, but embarked on an aggressive campaign to have the body regularized with its own legal identity. The Human Rights Commission Ordinance came into effect on second June 2008. Armed with the Legislation, the Commission continued to work diligently to fulfill its mandate of bringing about awareness and educating the public about human rights. The Commission had the support of a Chairman and four members representing the various inhabited Islands. The Chairman was also in charge of the day to day operation of the office.  In 2012, the Human Rights Commission was deemed a “watchdog institution’ as the body became one of the Constituted Bodies for Good Governance. In 2013, the amended Human Rights Commission Ordinance was passed, the Commission increased its compliment of staff and a new position of HRC Director was created.

The Commission continues to work with community leaders, educators, religious groups, professional organizations, non-governmental organizations, civic groups, and government stakeholders to educate persons on the human rights protection within the country. The Commission recognizes that the task of advocating and protecting human rights is challenging, but greatly needed in a progressive country and understand that a property functioning Human Rights Commission is the foundation for the effective promotion of equal rights and equal dignity.

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