config

                                                                                                                                                     

seal

NationalSeal1

                                                                               REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA

                                                         STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOP)

INDEPENDENT NATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUAMN RIGHTS (INCHR)

Adjacent Zone 3 Police Station, Congo Town

Table of Contents

PART I.........................................................................................................................................44

1.1   Background:.........................................................................................................................44

1.2 Code of Conduct ................................................................................................................4. 4

1.2  Organogram.........................................................................................................................4.. 4

PART II ... 4`........................................................................................................................................4

2.1 Introduction...........................................................................................................................4. 4

2.2. Interpretation........................................................................................................................5. 5

2.3 Statement of Common Purpose and Values...................................................................6. 6

2.4 Condition of Service............................................................................................................7. 7

PART III.........................................................................................................................................77

3.1 Personal and Professional Conduct................................................................................7. 7

3.2 Accountability:......................................................................................................................88

3.3 Prudent Use of Information:...............................................................................................88

3.4 Public Comment...................................................................................................................9. 9

3.5 Conflict of Interest.................................................................................................................9. 9

3.6 Public Resources:...............................................................................................................1010

3.7 Security..................................................................................................................................10. 10

3.8 Bribes, Gifts, Benefits, Travel and Hospitality.................................................................10. 10

3.9 Complaints and Disputes involving Commissioners and Officers..............................11. 11

3.10 Conduct of investigation...................................................................................................11. 11

13.11 Discipline and Sanctions................................................................................................11. 11

3.12 Responsibilities of Officers who leave the Commission.............................................12. 12

PART IV.........................................................................................................................................12.. 12

4.1 Administrative Structure of the INCHR.............................................................................12. 12

4.2 Commissioners’ Oversight..................................................................................................13. 13

PART FIVE:....................................................................................................................................1313

5.1 Procedure for External Communication:...........................................................................1313

PART SIX.......................................................................................................................................14. 14

6.1 Procedures for Managing Disagreements Internally:.....................................................1414

6.2 Grievance Procedures for Secretariat Staff.......................................................................1515

6.3 Grievance Procedures for Commissioners:.......................................................................1515

PART SEVEN:................................................................................................................................1616

7.1 Procedures for Receiving and Investigating Complaints:...............................................1616

PART EIGHT....................................................................................................................................16. 16

8.1 Standard Procedure for Hiring Personnel:.........................................................................1616

PART I

    1.1 Background:

The INCHR is a nascent institution with a mandate to promote and protect human rights in Liberia, arguably, a sufficient condition for consolidating Liberia’s hard-earned peace and democracy.  Since its formal establishment in October 2010 (when its Board of Commissioners was commissioned by the President of Liberia), a number of internal disagreements blamed on lack of clear procedures have been occasioned (some were expressed publicly via media sources) thus at times prompting the interventions of external actors from civil society organizations and some eminent persons.

Realizing the negative perceptions overt disagreements pose to institutions, especially for those institutions with high public standing, the need to draft more exacting procedures aimed at fostering a professional and strong corporate culture in the INCHR remains salient. Crucial to enjoying full autonomy in the Commission is the existence of a cohesive and self-regulating organization which will as far as possible handle its challenges internally and avoid the use of external actors.

In a nutshell, this is an endeavor which seeks to build strong internal systems; limit the involvement of external actors in settling internal disputes in an organization that demands high public trust; upholds and reinforce its autonomy and moral authority [a critical mandate superior to statutory mandate].

1.2 Code of Conduct

Guiding Principles: Public service is sustained by the trust the public reposes in the office or the office holder(s). Hence, the Commission recognizes that public perception is superior to legislative authority which defines the powers of an institution. 

 1.2 Organogram

PART II

2.1 Introduction

  1. The INCHR was established by an Act of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (2005). The Commission has general competence to protect and promote human rights in the Republic of Liberia according to the Act, the Constitution and other relevant international instruments that seek to promote human rights.
  2. The work of the INCHR would be seriously undermined if any Commissioner or any officer of the Commission acted in a manner which the Commission itself or any member of the public found reprehensible or to be the result of bias, dishonesty, conflict of interest or revenge.
  3. The Commissioners and officers of the Commission are employed in the Liberian public service and they are accordingly obliged to comply with all provisions of the Liberian public service specifically those provisions governing autonomous agencies. Because of the special nature of the Commission’s work and the duties of all Commissioners and officers of the Commission, it is necessary that a specific and more exacting code of conduct be established for Commissioners and officers of the Commission, in order to promote highest degree of probity and public confidence in the work of the Commission.
  4. This Code of Conduct therefore  goes beyond a mere prescription that  set out clear principles and requirements that specifically apply to the Commissioners  and officers in the service of the Commission; it is a set of espoused values which all Commissioners  are obliged to observe and uphold. This code of conduct takes cognizance of the Commission’s and the Transitional Justice Working Group/Civil Society Organizations Agreed Minutes of 17th September 2011. The code acts as deterrence to any form of unprofessional conduct and seeks to create an environment that is beyond reproach; a bastion for the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of individuals or groups. It further provides a statement of common purpose and values that should be observed to ensure that every activity of the Commission is carried out or achieved in a professional and efficient manner. It also explains how the principles are to be applied.
  5. This Code of Conduct applies to and is binding on every Commissioner and employees of the Commission and is to be complemented with the Commission’s standard operating procedures.

2.2. Interpretation

In this Code of Conduct, unless the context otherwise requires:

  1. “Commission” means the Independent National Commission on Human Rights of   
  2. Liberia established by the INCHR Act 2005 and applicable Amendment(s);
  3. “Commissioner” means a member of the Board of Commissioners (BOC) of the INCHR;
  4. “Chairperson” means the Head of the INCHR;
  5. “Vice Chairperson” means the person elected by two-thirds of fellow Commissioners to serve as a deputy to the Chairperson according to Art.IX (5) of the Act.
  6. “Executive Director” means the person recruited and appointed by the BOC to head the INCHR Secretariat; 
  7. “Director” means a person employed to head one of the five (5) Departments within the INCHR’s Secretariat; 
  8. “Officer” means the Executive Director, staff, consultants, human rights monitors, experts or any other person in the employ of the INCHR whether or not such employment is full or part time, paid or unpaid;
  9. “Secretariat” means that component of the INCHR established to render technical, professional, administrative and clerical support to the INCHR in implementing its mandate and functions.
  10. “Standard Operating Procedures” mean published orders and rules that provide for the operating procedures relating to:
    1. Employment procedures
    2. Financial matters of the Commission
    3. Procedures for services other than personnel
    4. Complaints procedures
    5. External communication procedures
    6. Grievance/dispute management  procedures

 2.3 Statement of Common Purpose and Values

1. The overarching purpose of the INCHR is to successfully fulfill Liberia’s obligations to promote and protect human rights and fundamental  freedoms by ensuring that each citizen or resident enjoys fully all inalienable and fundamental rights and liberties.

 2. The Commission recognizes that the true measures of its success will be how it vigorously pursues and diligently exercises its powers in a  manner that is honorable and legal and inspires or promotes continuing public confidence and support.  Accordingly, the Commission undertakes  that it will work promptly and with the highest standards of diligence, objectivity, integrity, professionalism and fairness and without undue  infringement of a person’s recognized rights or privileges.

 3. The INCHR further recognizes that it is accountable to the public that it serves and will strive to elicit its support from the public primarily in order to effectively promote and protect human rights.

 4. In furtherance of this purpose and to maintain set values, the INCHR pledges that its name and powers will always be used with restraint and with an awareness of their potential effect on the lives of the people it owes a duty. The Commission along with its Commissioners and officers individually and collectively promises and unequivocally proclaims that the authority and powers of the Commission shall never be used to gain personal advantage or promote any individual interest.

 5. Commissioners and officers of the INCHR pledge themselves to establish and sustain effective and congenial relationships with individuals and a variety of organizations outside the Commission. ABSOLUTELY, discrimination, and partiality, either within the Commission or in dealings with people and organizations outside the Commission will never be condoned, acquiesced, or tolerated.

 6. INCHR’s work will not be compromised or affected by any personal interest. Public resources will always be used efficiently and effectively. The security of information and the protection of persons working or dealing with the Commission will be protected at all times.

 7. In conclusion, the INCHR as a human rights organization, affirms, declares, and shall at all times maintain a zero tolerance for any sort of unethical behavior whatsoever. Never will the Commission give protection that yields impunity.

2.4 Condition of Service

1. The INCHR is an autonomous agency of the GoL which is financed by legislative appropriations. Commissioners and officers of the Commission are employees of the GoL who are subject to all rules appertaining to public servants established and existing now or hereafter, subject to such limitations which are enshrined in the INCHR Act of 2005 and its subsequent amendment(s).

 2. All Commissioners and officers of the INCHR shall perform their duties and serve the Commission on a full-time basis [No Commissioner or officer of the INCHR shall, while in the employ of the Commission, accept another employment, except in such case as teaching a public school [gratis] provided that such engagement does not conflict with the Commissioner’s or officer’s required work with the Commission.

 3. INCHR’s Commissioners and officers must be familiar and act in accordance with the provisions of the INCHR’s Act (2005) and its amendment(s), the constitution of Liberia, Commission’s Standard Operating Procedures, condition of service, and any other personnel circular relating to the affairs of the Commission. Particular emphasis should be placed on the imperative to respect all victims, and strict adherence to protect their integrity and confidence at all times. The Commissioners of the Commission shall ensure that there is no conflict between legislative and policy requirements and the Code of Conduct.

 4. All officers of the Commission will be required to undergo such training as the Commission deems necessary for the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of the Commission. Commissioners and officers are required to attend a yearly Ethics retreat. Officers’ performance assessments will be prepared annually by their supervisors.

PART III

3.1 Personal and Professional Conduct

1.  INCHR’s  Commissioners and officers shall at all times fulfill the duties imposed on them by law, especially the INCHR (2005) and its Amendment by serving the public and by upholding the law consistent with the highest degree of responsibility required by their institutional profession;

 2. Commissioners  and officers shall at all times respect human dignity and human rights of all persons without discrimination on grounds of race, sex, marital status, nationality, ethnic or national origin, physical or intellectual impairment, religious or political conviction and by acting at all times with honesty , commitment and diligence, integrity and impartiality;

 3. In furtherance of fairness in discharging the work of the Commission, as far as possible, Commissioners  and officers of the INCHR shall take all reasonable steps to see that the information upon which they base their decisions or actions is factually correct and that all the relevant information has been obtained;

 4. No Commissioner or officer of the INCHR shall divulge any sensitive/classified information that comes to his/her attention or into his/her possession, unless authorized in the performance of his legitimate duties;

 5. Officers shall obey all lawful instructions issued to them by their supervisors, but shall decline to comply with orders they know or ought to know to be unlawful.

3.2 Accountability:

A Commissioner or officer of the INCHR will be held personally responsible for his own acts or omissions. Supervisors are required to report [take appropriate action] for work-related acts or omissions of their subordinates that come to their attention. Although supervisors are not personally held liable for the acts of their subordinates, they are however strongly encouraged to report as far as possible any unethical behavior of their subordinates or colleagues that come to their attention.

3.3 Prudent Use of Information:

  1. Crucial to the INCHR’s mandate is to monitor the aggregate human rights situation and to investigate complaints brought to its attention. These tasks demand absolute protection of sensitive and confidential information by all who have access to such information. Officers are strictly required to use such information only in the performance of official duties, never for personal gain or the benefit of any third party. Any breach of confidentiality shall result in immediate disciplinary action against the person concerned as defined by the Board of Commissioners;
  2. INCHR’s officers shall be prudent in discussing sensitive information with other officers of the Commission or members of the public. There will normally be no reason to discuss sensitive matters with any officer who is not directly concerned or involved with the matter to which the information pertains;
  3. No officer of the Commission shall influence the findings or outcome of any investigation. All information [research, findings, surveys, etc.] shall be factual;
  4. An officer of the Commission shall not use privileged information gained in the course of his/her official duties:

a) In ways which are inconsistent with the officer’s obligation to act impartially;

b) To gain improper personal advantage or for any other reason.

5.  Such use of information for improper advantage includes:

  1. Releasing information on planned investigations or inquiries if knowledge beforehand to the public will undermine the successful conclusion of such investigation or report.
  2. Exchanging confidential information with officers of other organizations, unless necessary and authorized in furtherance of official duty [necessary to achieve Commission’s priorities];
  3. Taking advantage for personal reasons of a person(s) on the basis of information about such person(s) held by the INCHR;
  4. Providing information from official records to any person outside the Commission for reasons not directly related to the work of the Commission.

3.4 Public Comment

  1. The official spokesperson of the INCHR is the Chairperson or his/her designee. However, official comments on behalf of the Commission shall address an agreed agenda of the Commission. Hence, no Commissioner or officer of the Commission shall make official comment on matters relating to the affairs of the Commission without authorization. Media inquiries to the Commission shall be addressed to the Chairperson or his/her designee. However, comments about general principles of human rights which are factual are authorized. In such a case, the person making the statement must issue a disclaimer ‘’stating that the views expressed are his/hers and do not in any way represent the official position of the Commission”;
  2. Although the INCHR seeks to be a public-focus institution, any other internal discussion about the INCHR’s work shall be confined to material that is in the public domain. This applies [only] to public reports and discussion papers, annual reports, public information material and public addresses;
  3.  Commissioners and officers as part of their duty to promote and protect human rights as such may make comments on general principles on human rights; however, caution shall be exercised in ensuring that their personal views are not construed as official position of the INCHR. The expression of personal views about the Commission’s work has a potential to adversely affect the Commission’s standing with the public, affect its reputation or the exercise of its functions [in all situations, ask yourself: Is my position serving the best interest of the INCHR?] 

3.5 Conflict of Interest

  1. Consistent with Article XI(7), Officers or Commissioners shall declare an interest at the earliest opportunity in any matter under investigation or procurement in which any person who is the subject of such investigation or procurement is an associate, relative or friend as the case may be. Such declaration shall be made in a Board of Commissioners Meeting or in writing to the Chairperson within twenty-four hours of such knowledge coming to their attention;
  2. If during the course of any duty (investigation, inquiry, monitoring) an officer/Commissioner encounters information which involves people, organizations or activities which the officer has a personal interest , such a fact must be reported promptly to the Executive Director in the case of Secretariat staff or Chairperson in the case of a Commissioner. A determination whether or not the party concerned continues with the activity must be made within 72 hours/3 working days.

Nature of such conflict:

  1. An inquiry or investigation involving a familial relation, friend, associate or company which the party concerned  had an interest;
  2. An officer involvement with procurement [for personnel, services other than personnel] involving any relation stated in a) above.
  3. An inquiry or investigation involving any of the relation stated in a) and b) above.

3.6 Public Resources:

  1. There is an imperative to use all resources (human, financial, material) held by the Commission efficiently such that waste does not occur and in the best interest of the INCHR.
  2. Procedures for the purchase of services other than personnel will be consistent with GoL’s laws governing the subject; particular emphasis must be placed on the Public Procurement Commission Act (PPCA) and its procurement manual;
  3. A Commissioner or officer of the Commission shall not use any property belonging to the Commission for private purpose. However, reasonable use for private purpose is allowed provided that such use is infrequent, and does not interfere with the Commission’s work;
  4. INCHR’s motor vehicles assigned are GoL property assigned to the Commission: their use must not contravene GoL policy relating to the use of Government-Owned Assets/Vehicles. There must be responsible use of GoL Vehicles at all times. The cost of repairs for damage resulting from the irresponsible handling of GoL Vehicle shall be the responsibility of the Commissioner or staff concern based on the determination of the Commission;
  5. In the case the Chairperson authorizes INCHR’s assigned vehicles for private use; a fee must be paid for liberty mileage accrued. Only authorized INCHR personnel may drive its vehicles duly assigned.

3.7 Security

  1. Security of information and premises is vital to the INCHR’s effectiveness and to the personal safety of its Commissioners and officers. All are obligated to personally contribute to an enhanced security environment.
  2. All officers of the Commission shall endeavor to properly familiarize themselves with established procedures relating to the removal and proper destruction of confidential and sensitive documents. These include hardcopies and electronic copies of files.

3.8 Bribes, Gifts, Benefits, Travel and Hospitality

  1. A Commissioner or officer of the Commission shall not solicit or accept any money, gift, benefit or hospitality from a member of the public except in accordance with the Code of Conduct Act;
  2. Spouses, children or immediate dependents of the INCHR Commissioners and officers shall not accept any offer from any individual or organization that is the subject of an official complaint, report or investigation by the Commission;
  3.  INCHR’s Commissioners or officers will ensure that relations mentioned in 12.2 above are made aware of these requirements and their applicability to them.

3.9 Complaints and Disputes involving Commissioners and Officers

Commissioners:

  1. A complaint made against a Commissioner or any dispute involving a Commissioner will be promptly reported to the Chairperson. If the Chairperson considers the complaint to be valid, he/she shall immediately convene a meeting with the Board of Commissioners, sitting as a body, to look into the complaint, with a view of resolving it, as soon as possible.  In an event a complaint or dispute involving a Commissioner is a grave misconduct, [beyond the control of the Commission], the Chairperson shall refer same to the President.
  2. Disputes between Commissioners emanating from divergence of opinion on issues shall be referred to other Commissioners /colleagues [internally]. If dispute is not resolved internally, same shall be referred to the Civil Society including eminent citizens.  As far as possible, disputes of this nature shall not come to the attention of the President. [Remember, a failure or inability to achieve internal cohesion disturbs your autonomy]

Officers of the Secretariat:

A complaint made against, or dispute involving any officer of the Secretariat will be reported immediately to the Executive Director. If the Executive Director considers the complaint or dispute valid, he/she must take administrative action that befit the conduct complained of. If the dispute concerns the Executive Director, the Vice-Chairperson along with other Commissioners shall investigate the allegation and make recommendation(s) befitting the conduct complained of to the Chairperson.

3.10 Conduct of investigation

A complaint or dispute brought to the attention of the Commission will be adjudicated in accordance with best practices: a person who is the subject of the complaint shall be informed of the complaint against him and be given the opportunity to respond to the Complaint. Particular attention shall be paid to the Civil Service Standing Order where the case warrants suspension or termination.

13.11 Discipline and Sanctions

  1. Disciplinary action shall be taken against an officer who violates any provision of the INCHR’s Standard Operation Procedures and Code of Conduct;
  2. Absolutely, any criminal activity concerning an officer shall be referred for prompt investigation to the Ministry of Justice;
  3. The sanctions to be applied will depend upon the seriousness of the breach of conduct and may include:

a) Appropriate counseling

b)  Record of behavior kept on Commissioner or official personnel file

c) Suspension without pay

d) Dismissal

 4. An employee of the Commission who is found not guilty of an allegation for which he/she was temporarily suspended or terminated shall be reinstated with all entitlements.

3.12 Responsibilities of Officers who leave the Commission

  1. Confidentiality obligation of every Commissioner or officer of the Commission goes beyond his/her tenure of employment and continues even after the end of his or her service with the Commission for a period of five years;
  2. An officer or Commissioner who leaves the Commission shall not engage in any of the following:
    1. Make public or otherwise use, any confidential knowledge or information gained as a result of his/her employment in the Commission;
    2. Distribute, publish or release any confidential information about the Commission;
  3. A Commissioner or officer who no longer works for the Commission shall return in timely manner any or all properties or documents of the Commission in their possession.
  4. This Code of Conduct may be amended or modified from time to time based on the judgment of the Commission [if necessary to address the Commission’s needs].

PART IV

4.1 Administrative Structure of the INCHR

  1. Theoretically, the INCHR is one institution with two distinct but collaborating components namely the Commission and the Secretariat.  In this context, the Commission is comprised of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, five other Commissioners and their personal staff [assigned technical assistants, special aides, secretaries, and drivers]. The mandate of the Commission is policy formulation, direct representation of the INCHR to the Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, national, and international organizations.
  2. The Secretariat comprises technical and administrative/ support staff other than those directly assigned with the Commissioners.  The Secretariat headed by the Executive Director and assisted by Department heads/directors that provide day-to-day substantive technical and administrative support to the INCHR in furtherance of its (INCHR‘s) smooth operations.
  3. Each Commissioner shall recommend his/her driver, Office Assistant and Technical Assistant for employment by the Commission.  Although these personnel are directly supervised by their principal, they report through the Secretariat.
  4. Consistent with Article XIII of the INCHR Act, the INCHR has five administrative departments:
    1. Department of Administration and Budget
    2. Department of Planning, Internal Monitoring and Evaluation;
    3. Department of Complaints, Investigation and Monitoring;
    4. Department of Legislative Assistance, Treaty Matters and Law;
    5. Department of Education, Training and Information 

4.2 Commissioners’ Oversight

  1. Departmental Oversight: Commissioners shall exercise oversight over the five administrative departments of the INCHR. Ideally, thematic oversight is based on strong conceptual understanding of the subject matter being overseen. The INCHR’s five departments are managed daily by departmental heads under the supervision of the Executive Director. Operationally, the Department head liaises and consults with the Commissioner with the thematic oversight. Commissioners’ thematic oversight affords them the opportunity to be abreast of activities in the organization so that they can better communicate developments emanating from the INCHR to external peers. 
  2. Geographic Oversight: In order to keep abreast of the INCHR’s programs and activities in the fifteen counties, a Commissioner has geographic oversight. This ensures that a Commissioner in charge of a particular region is fluent with human rights issues and all the programs and activities managed irrespective of their thematic nature. This also represents an opportunity for the Commissioners to be fully engaged with departmental heads [build links between Commissioner and technical units].
  3. Thematic Oversight: Based on emerging human rights themes, the Chairperson may assign Commissioners to exercise thematic oversight.

PART FIVE:

5.1 Procedure for External Communication:

  1. Guiding Principle:  External communications are to portray the best image of the sender/ Commission: the imperative to ask oneself, “is this in the best interest of the Commission?”
  2. Purpose: This document sets to establish the required procedures and processes officers of the Commission (both employees and Commissioners) must follow when they intend to communicate with persons outside of the Commission.
  3. Routine Official Correspondence:
    1. Correspondence relating to day-to- day official matters of the Commission such as a reply to letters written to the Commission shall be written by the Executive Director on behalf of the Commission [discussing the contents of such correspondence with  concerned department supervisor before writing ]
    2. A clearance page with a clear trail shall be attached to a letter.  This will enable concerned persons to a correspondence to give their approval. For example, an outbound correspondence (letter or memo) emanating from a department should have the signatures of the drafter, the supervisor of the department if the drafter is a person other than the supervisor.
    3. An outbound letter that requires the signature of the vice chairperson shall be signed by the drafter, cleared by his/her supervisor, the Executive Director then finally approved by the vice chairperson.
    4. An outbound correspondence originating from a department that requires  the signature of the Chairperson shall be cleared by the drafter, the Executive Director, the department’s oversight Commissioner, the vice chairperson  then finally approved by the chairperson [this process enables meeting of the minds, the opportunity to raise questions, or the possibility to make relevant modification]

4. Press Conferences:

  1. Before a press conference is held, the contents of the substantive nature of the conference must be cleared by the Board of Commissioners.
  2. If during the discourse (questions and answers), a response which does not represent the views of the board of Commissioners  is made or implied, a statement of correction shall be made by the person who made the statement.
  3. As far as possible, there shall be no open rebuttal of statements or views expressed by   a Commissioner   in the media (newspaper, radio and new media/internet). 

6.1 Procedures for Managing Disagreements Internally:

  1. Guiding Principle: “It is good idea to seek external mediation; but note that the involvement of external actors in settling internal disputes undermines institutional autonomy”, hence, see the consequences of external mediation.
  2. The work environment brings together persons from diverse backgrounds in many respects.  Irrespective of any diversity [status, different values, beliefs, wishes, needs] there is an obvious imperative- ‘we ought to co-exist harmoniously’’. Consistent with this imperative, these simple procedures are drafted to serve as a guide which must be followed if a member of the Team has a grievance against another member of the Team or colleague.

6.2 Grievance Procedures for Secretariat Staff.

  1. An employee who has a disagreement/dispute with a colleague shall first discuss same with the concerned colleague.  If honest and frank discussion with said colleague fails, he/she shall report same to other colleagues in the Commission.  [Complain to peers first].
  2. If peers intervention fails to amicably settle the grievance, he/she shall report the grievance to a line supervisor. [A line supervisor who receives a complaint shall as far as possible try to settle the dispute between the parties]
  3. If the grievance is not settled at the level of the line supervisor, then the line supervisor shall refer same to a department supervisor [a department supervisor shall make all honest effort to resolve the dispute in a way that promotes peace and mutual respect between the parties]
  4. If all honest efforts are exhausted by the department supervisor but the parties are unwilling to reach a settlement, then he/she shall report same to the Executive Director [for Secretariat staff, the intervention of the Executive Director must concern an offense of a serious nature, which will require some disciplinary action]. Except the complaint will result in termination, all disputes between Secretariat staff should not be reported beyond the Executive Director.
  5. If the Executive Director determines that the dispute in question may warrant a termination, he/she shall report same to the Vice Chairperson or Chairperson.
  6. A dispute between the Executive Director and another employee of the Secretariat shall be reported to the Vice Chairperson [who will meticulously handle the dispute in a way that accords fairness to the parties]
  7. If the Vice Chairperson fails to resolve the dispute, he/she shall refer same to the Chairperson for a final determination.
  8. A dispute between a staff and a Commissioner shall be referred to the vice chairperson.
  9. A dispute between a staff and the vice chairperson shall be referred to the chairperson.
  10. Dispute between a staff and the chairperson shall be referred to the board of Commissioners excluding the chairperson   

6.3 Grievance Procedures for Commissioners:

  1. A Commissioner who has a dispute/grievance with a fellow Commissioner shall discuss his grievance  with said colleague [both must explore the beauty of a frank discussion]
  2. If a frank discussion fails, the complainant shall report his/her grievance to other colleagues.  Bear in mind [honest apologies are usually worth more than unbridled pride, listen to your friends’ position]
  3. If other colleagues fail to settle amicably, a complaint shall be filed to the Vice Chairperson –where he/she is not the subject of the complaint [please choose to see the dividends of colleagues or peers judgment].  
  4. If the Vice chairperson fails to settle the dispute amicably, she/he shall refer the case to the Chairperson.
  5. If the Chairperson is the subject of the complaint, the complaint shall be made to the board of Commissioners [six Commissioners  excluding the chairperson]
  6. If the board of six Commissioners  fails to resolve the dispute, the dispute shall be referred to mediators from the civil society or eminent persons who the Commission reposed confidence in [bear in mind that any complaint from a commissioner against another Commissioner   to the Executive, Judiciary or Legislative undermines the Commission’s autonomy]  

PART SEVEN:

7.1 Procedures for Receiving and Investigating Complaints:

Guiding Principle: One of the most important functions vested in a human rights Commission  is to receive and investigate complaints from individuals (and occasionally, from groups) alleging human rights abuses committed in violation of existing national and international laws. [Refer to the Complaints Handling Manual of the INCHR]

PART EIGHT

8.1 Standard Procedure for Hiring Personnel:

1. Purpose: This document seeks to establish procedures for hiring staff for the Independent National Commission on Human Rights. It describes    in detail the steps and various forms that the Commission will use in conducting its employment.

 3.Guiding Principle: A professional workplace requires personnel with requisite skills and attributes who can successfully perform the tasks    required of them: ‘’the INCHR strongly espouses this basic principle and henceforth shall use same as its sole criterion for hiring personnel who  wish to work for the Commission’’.

 3.Objective: The objective of this section is to create a predictable and consistent policy for hiring personnel for the Commission in a manner that  will engender transparency and professionalism in the Commission and greatly mitigate the likelihood of any incidence of conflict of interest in  the employment of personnel.

I.          Requisition for Job Search Approval

a.         Approval to Commence Hiring Process

The hiring process is commenced by the Executive Director making a written request to the Board of Commissioners that a search be conducted for a person to fill a new or existing position of employment. Such a request is to be made by the head of department on a Job Search Request Form (INCHR Form 001) from the Human Resources Officer.

If the BOC approves a job search, then the Executive Director shall direct the HRO and the department requesting the staff to develop a concise job description for the position under consideration.

If the job search request relates to an existing position of employment and, after reviewing the most recent official job description for such position, the Executive Director is of the opinion that the job description does not need to be updated or otherwise revised, then he/she shall state that the position should be advertised as is.

If the job search request relates to an existing position of employment but the Executive Director is aware that the most recent job description for such position needs to be updated or otherwise revised, then he/she must either attach a written modification for the position.

If the job search request relates to a new position of employment, then the HRO must either (a) attach a proposed draft job description for the position, or (b) state the proposed job title, major duties and responsibilities, and supervisor of the proposed position. 

II.        Verification for Availability of Funds:

The HRO shall liaise with the finance office to verify the availability of funds. No position shall be advertised without verifying that there is sufficient fund available to pay for the duration of the position.

III.       Development of Job Description

Prior to the formal announcement and advertisement of the vacancy, the HRO shall develop a complete and accurate job description for the position, which shall contain at least the following: (a) duties and responsibilities of the job; (b) required education and work experience; and (c) all other special qualifications or requirements of the job.

The Human Resources Officer shall finalize a job description for the position, and send a copy of the job description to the relevant department to be reviewed and finalized.

IV.       Vacancy Announcement

The Human Resources Officer shall develop a written vacancy announcement and advertisement for the position. The vacancy announcement and advertisement shall include a desired profile for the person to occupy the position. However, nothing within such profile, or the remainder of the announcement or advertisement, shall be inconsistent with the existing or developed official job description for the position. The vacancy announcement and advertisement may specify the salary range for the position to be filled. Further, the advertisement shall state that “the Commission is an equal opportunity employer” and the following:

  • It is the official policy of the Commission that no person shall, on the grounds of disability/handicap, gender, religion, creed, ethnic background political affiliation, or age, be excluded from participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program, activity, or employment. The Commission will make reasonable accommodations for qualified disabled applicants or employees.
  • Optional: Give notice that the Commission reserves the right to withdraw this job announcement at any time prior to the awarding.
  • The Human Resources Officer shall finalize a vacancy announcement and advertisement for the position, and send a copy thereof to the Executive Director and the requesting department.  

V.        Recruitment of Applicants

The Commission shall seek to procure applications from all interested, qualified persons.

Within five (5) working days after the Commission grants final approval for the job search, the Human Resources Officer shall advertise the vacancy with at least two newspapers with the highest readership, radio announcements and on the internet especially the INCHR and Executive Mansion website.  As far as possible a vacancy advertisement shall be published in time to give interested persons a reasonable opportunity to respond to it.  All positions are advertised for at least a minimum of two (2) weeks.

1.  Formation of Search Committee

2. Procedure for Appointing Committee Members

A search committee shall comprise of three or five   persons. If there are a very large number of applicants for a vacancy, or special circumstances exist, the Commission may increase the number of search committee members to five. The search committee members shall be selected as follows:

  • The Commission shall appoint a person on the search committee for his/her expertise in the subject matter under consideration.
  • The Commission shall ensure that persons so appointed on the search committee represent a diversity of stakeholders, namely a representative of the requesting department; a representative from partner institutions and a representative from the Human Resource Office.
  • The process begins with the director/supervisor of the employment position suggesting names for the search committee to the Executive Director.
  • The Executive Director and Human Resources Officer discuss and finalize recommendations for search committee member appointments.
  • The recommendations of the Executive Director and Human Resources Officer are to be forwarded to the BOC [via a memo].
  • The Commission will then review the recommendations and appoint the chair [preferably the director/supervisor of the employment position] and members.

In case that an appointed search committee member cannot serve on a search committee, then the Human Resources Officer should be notified, and the Commission may replace that committee member.

3.  APPLICATION PROCESS

The Human Resources Office shall make available application forms and clear instructions in furtherance of a smooth application process.

4.  Application Deadline

All completed application materials must be received by the Human Resources Office, as applicable, by the deadline stated in the vacancy announcement and/or in the application instructions.

The deadline shall be uniformly applied to all applicants. Thus, no application materials received after the stated deadline will be considered unless the Commission extends the deadline (in which case all applications received by the new, extended deadline will be considered).A completed application package will consist of all the required documents listed in the solicitation as stated in the vacancy announcement or application instruction.

5.    Receipt of Applications

The Human Resources Office shall promptly date-stamp all application materials received, so as to enable enforcement of the application deadline.

6.    Communications with Applicants

The search committee through its chair shall promptly contact successful applicants to keep them abreast of their applications status.  All members of the search committee are required to maintain the committee’s work as confidential; as such they are precluded from passing on any unauthorized information to an applicant or others.

7.    Search Committee Screening of Applicants

All timely and complete applications for a position advertised shall be screened by the search committee. The committee shall shortlist a maximum of five qualified applicants for each vacancy and recommends at least three applicants to the Commission (unless there are fewer than five qualified applicants, in which case all qualified applicants shall be submitted to the Commission).

The search committee's recommendations shall be ranked and shall be listed in alphabetical order by last name.

i. Preparations for Interview Committee’s Work

The Interview Committee shall comprise three or five persons to include the Oversight Commissioner or Director/supervisor of the relevant department/unit, a subject matter specialist, external partner and the Executive Director. The Interview Committee shall develop Standardized Interview Questions which it may refine by adding additional questions more specific to the relevant employment position. The Interview Committee shall reflect gender balance.

The Committee shall develop Guidelines for Interviewing Job Applicants. This document provides to the Interview Committee members guidance as to how to avoid natural follow-up questions or remarks made after a job applicant answers a standardized interview question - which are or may be considered discriminatory in nature (that is, based upon an applicant’s, sex, age, religion, regional origin, or disability).

ii. Testing

All technical positions in the Commission are subject to skill testing. Hence, interview committee will conduct necessary testing and evaluate the results. The testing results shall constitute part of the evaluation report. 

iii. Secure Maintenance of Records

All applications received by the Commission shall, prior to, during and after the selection process, be maintained securely and confidentially by the Human Resources Officer in the Human Resources Office.

iv. When and how the Committee performs its Work

(1) Advance Examination of Applications

Once applications deadline expires, the Human Resources Officer shall make copies of the received applications available, in a secure or supervised setting, for inspection by individual search committee members.

Such viewing shall be under circumstances and guidelines established by the Commission, so that confidentiality and security of materials is appropriately maintained and the operations of the Human Resource Office are not rendered unduly inefficient.

(2) Initial Committee Meeting

(a) Committee Orientation

The initial search committee meeting shall be scheduled by the Human Resources Officer for a date not later than five (5) working days after the application deadline.

Untimely applications (those which were not received and completed by the application deadline) will be retained in the Human Resources Office. If, during its work, the search committee discovers that an application submitted to it is incomplete, then such application will be returned to the Human Resources Office and will receive no further consideration by the committee.

The Department of Administration will draft an evaluation instrument. The committee will, in consultation with the Human Resources Officer, refine or otherwise modify the instrument to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate, based upon the minimum qualifications for the position and subject to approval by the BOC.

(3) Additional Committee Meetings

(a) Evaluating Applicants

If more than ten (10) applications are received from persons who meet minimum qualifications, the HRO, in conjunction with the Search Committee, has the option of conducting a preliminary screening of these applicants to determine a “reasonable number” for interviews. This “reasonable number” cannot be less than five, and the Committee’s participation in the preliminary screening cannot be delegated to anyone else.

As part of the evaluation process, the search committee will satisfy itself that the persons invited for interview possess the relevant education. This will be accomplished by the committee, or members thereof, reviewing the transcripts included within the application materials submitted.

If work experience is a requirement listed in the vacancy advertisement, then as part of the evaluation process, the search committee shall also verify applicants’ work experience by telephoning employers. All work experience verification must be documented, by recording the dates and times of telephone calls, who called, the name of the relevant applicants, and the names of the persons who verified the information.

The work experience verification described in this paragraph will be conducted, at the committee’s discretion, with respect to: (1) all minimally qualified applicants; (2) all persons invited to an interview; (3) all persons who appear for interview; or, (4) applicants being recommended as finalists.

If an applicant refuses to permit his or her experience to be verified, then the applicant will not be given further consideration for employment.

The interview committee shall, during the evaluation process, use scoring instruments and methodologies.

The search committee should make its decisions as to which minimally qualified applicants should be invited for interview soon enough to enable the interviews to be conducted commencing on or before the thirtieth (30th) day after the application deadline.

The search committee shall submit to the Human Resources Officer two alphabetical listings: (1) the applicants to be invited to the Commission for an interview, and (2) the applicants not to be interviewed, stating the reason why each person is on the applicable list.

(b) Interviewing Applicant

Once the Search Committee concludes a list of persons who meet minimum qualification for the position, the interview committee shall proceed with interviewing the applicants.

The Human Resource Officer will then contact the approved applicants inviting them to be interviewed and to schedule the interviews and inform them of the date, time, and location of the interview.

The interview committee members shall conduct the interviews in a manner which is consistent with the Guidelines for Interviewing Job Applicants (included as part of the Committee Orientation Package).

(c) Using Standard Interview Questions

The questions (other than follow-up questions) posed during the interviews will be only those questions approved. Committee members should take an active part in all phases of the interview process. Interview questions must be approved, in advance by Administration.

(d) Selecting Finalists

After the interviews are conducted, the interview committee will further evaluate the applicants. The committee will also check appropriate references of the finalists. The applicants who are chosen as finalists are to be informed of their status as finalists by the Human Resources Officer.

g. Offer of Employment

i. Making the Informal Offer of Employment

The Human Resources Officer / Executive Director shall make the informal employment offer to the selected finalist. The Human Resources Officer shall notify the relevant department and the Commission selected finalist’s response to the informal employment offer.

After an informal (and/or formal) offer of employment is accepted by a recommended candidate, all other finalists will be notified by the Human Resources Officer that the position has been filled.

If a selected finalist does not accept an informal (or formal) offer of employment, then the Commission may offer one of the other finalists the position or take other appropriate action.

ii. Determining Appropriate Rate of Compensation

The Commission through the Human Resources Officer and the Search Committee shall determine the annual salary for the selected employee based on the INCHR Salary scale/schedule which takes into cognizance position, education, experience mainly taking into consideration his/her specific importance to the institution, pay history, relevant trainings, etc. and determine the appropriate rate of compensation to be offered and paid to the selected finalist.

iii. Making the Formal Offer of Employment

The Executive Director shall prepare a letter of employment offer (and/or fixed-term employment contract) based on salary information provided to them by the Human Resources Office, for the Chairperson’s approval, as well as the selected finalist’s signature.

If the formal offer of employment is accepted through proper signature, then the Human Resources Office shall schedule a new employee orientation, coordinate the completion of necessary paperwork, and create a new employee file.

APPROVED BY THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS THROUGH ITS RESOLUTION #06172016 ADOPTED ON 17TH JUNE 2016 IN THE CITY OF MONROVIA – REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA.  

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