August 26, 2016 – Port au Prince, Haiti
OCAPH is laying the groundwork for a more engaged Parliament by first meeting with individual Parliamentary Commissions and obtaining their commitment to become more responsive to citizen concerns.
“Thus far, we have met with five Parliamentary Commissions,” said Karl Jean-Louis, Executive Director of OCAPH. “They have told us they are committed to stepping up their interactions with civil society and will take part in any opportunities we provide them to do so.”
In the Senate, OCAPH has met with the Education, Agriculture, and Health Commissions. And in the Lower Chamber, meetings took place with the Commissions of the Environment and Education. A separate meeting was held with the President of the Lower Chamber.
“Slowly but surely, our visibility within Parliament as a non-partisan citizen advocate and watchdog is growing,” said Jean-Louis. “Just last week, for instance, we played a pivotal role in pushing the Senate to get engaged and vote on candidates for the Central Bank’s Board membership, extremely influential positions.
“To help maintain communication channels, we also provide technical assistance to members of Parliament when requested,” he added.
The meetings with Parliamentary Commission members are part of a broader initiative to increase civic space called “Citizens Monitoring Parliament.” In the coming months, OCAPH will organize conversations between Parliamentarians and civil society, especially residents of disadvantaged communities who historically have been voiceless. It also plans to air radio and television programs during which listeners can learn more about Parliament’s work and how to influence it.