Maputo — The main challenge facing Mozambique in the human rights area "is to educate the public about their rights", declared Justice Minister Benvinda Levy on Thursday.
She was speaking at a ceremony where the 11 members of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) were presented publicly, a day after they had been sworn into office by President Armando Guebuza.
"A great deal of work is needed to guarantee that the people know about the laws", said Levy. "I'm not going to say that this should happen in the next five or ten years, because that's not possible. But if, within the next 50 years, we manage to ensure that people have a greater awareness of the law and of their rights, we will have taken a great step forward".
She added that the government hopes that the CNDH can start its work this year - even though it is not covered by the 2012 budget. She pledged that the CNDH would have a budget as from January 2013, though she admitted that the funds available would not be sufficient.
The Commission's chairperson, prominent human rights lawyer Custodio Duma, said the CNDH has been set up to defend the interests of the public, to guarantee legal protection of citizens, and to promote human rights.
He thought that the composition of the Commission would help it in achieving its goals. Of the CNDH's 11 members, three were appointed by the Prime Minister, three were elected by the political parties represented in parliament, four were chosen by civil society organisations, and one (Duma himself) was elected by the Mozambican Bar Association.
"The Commission consists of people from various areas of knowledge, from the law and justice, to education, to health and culture", said Duma. "It includes women, though few in number, there are members from the provinces, and there is even religious representation. This diversity, allied to the experience of each of these people will be an added value and will help the Commission comply with its mission".