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MP demands answers on HRC’s handling of queries

Shadow Community Minister Michael Weeks has questioned whether the Human Rights Commission is handling queries in a “timely manner” after its annual reports for 2010 and 2011 were tabled in Parliament.

Community Minister Wayne Scott laid down the long-awaited reports in the House of Assembly on Friday, telling MPs that the commission received 237 queries in 2010, resulting in 13 investigations, and 270 queries in 2011, resulting in ten investigations.

Mr Weeks asked: “What is being done to resolve these issues in a timely manner?

“I’m asking that because I see that 237 queries had been had by 2010. I’d just like to know how timely a fashion did we get these queries answered?”

Mr Scott replied: “I would very easily answer that question. We’re working diligently to resolve these things. As you see, some of these things ... have been outstanding.

“Now ... I’m at the helm, if you will, making sure that we just put things in place to just get on with it and get these things addressed.

“But some of these things do take time, especially if there are litigations involved and mediation. So I think that everything is being done now in a timely manner and the commission is actually pretty comfortable with the work that they’re carrying out.”

The Minister gave no further information on how long it took for the queries to be answered and the reports themselves do not provide details. Under the Human Rights Act, the HRC has nine months to investigate a complaint of discrimination.

The Act also requires the Commission to make a report to the Minister on its activities “not later than six months after the end of each calendar year” and the Minister to table that in Parliament “as soon as may be after receiving” it.

In the last decade, the Commission’s annual reports have rarely been delivered to the public on time.

Mr Scott told the House that there had been “unavoidable delays” in the “preparation and development” of the 2010 and 2011 reports but gave no details of the cause of the delays.

He did not respond to an e-mailed request to elaborate by press time last night.

Commission executive officer Lisa Lister told

The Royal Gazette that the 2012 report was in draft.

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Published May 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 21, 2013 at 11:39 pm)

MP demands answers on HRC’s handling of queries

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