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APF pays tribute to departing legal counsel

Graphic: Greg Heesom

Over the past nine years, Greg Heesom has played a pivotal role in advising APF members and supporting governments to establish NHRIs in the region.


After more than nine years working as the APF's Legal Counsel, Greg Heesom will finish in his role in the coming weeks.

During his tenure with the APF secretariat, Greg played a pivotal role in advising APF members and supporting the establishment of new national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the region.

A key part of his work has been to support APF members in seeking international accreditation and re-accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

He was also a key contributor from the Asia Pacific region in the development of GANHRI's General Observations, which provide NHRIs and governments with clear advice on the Paris Principles and how they apply to the establishment and functioning of independent and effective NHRIs.

"It was a terrific opportunity to work with others on the General Observations," Greg said.

"They have become a valuable tool to help NHRIs critically reflect on their own processes and mechanisms and for governments to identify how they can strengthen their NHRI."

During his time with the APF, Greg provided advice on legislation to a broad range of NHRIs across the region in order to bolster their compliance with the Paris Principles, as well as to governments considering the establishment of NHRIs.

He also supported the development of regional jurisprudence on key human rights issues through drafting reports of the Advisory Council of Jurists on the right to environment, human rights and corporate accountability, sexual orientation and gender identity and, currently, the use of the death penalty.


The strength of the APF today is in many ways a reflection of Greg's unflagging commitment to our members and ensuring they can be strong advocates for human rights.

 Logo Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director, APF secretariat

Greg has been an integral part of the APF secretariat for nearly a decade, said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

"His advice to APF members and governments has always been of the very highest quality and focused on ensuring that NHRIs in the Asia Pacific have the legal foundation they need to be independent and effective," he said.

"He also provided tireless support when APF members were undertaking accreditation reviews so they could present a clear and thorough account of their work and achievements.

"The strength of the APF today is in many ways a reflection of Greg's unflagging commitment to our members and ensuring they can be strong advocates for human rights.

"I know that all APF members will join us in thanking Greg for his wonderful service and wish him well in the time ahead."

Pip Dargan, Deputy Director of the APF secretariat, emphasised the great importance and value APF members place on this legal and technical advice.

"While we are very sad to see Greg leave, we are pleased to announce that Ms Jenni Whelan will take up the position of Legal and Policy Manager in mid-July. This will ensure smooth and uninterrupted legal services and advice on legislation and accreditation to our members," Ms Dargan said.

The APF will provide profile on Ms Whelan's impressive legal and teaching career in the next APF Bulletin, which includes working as Director of the Legal Unit of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Date: 21 June 2016


Image credits

  1. Greg Heesom - APF/James Iliffe