“In accordance with section 6 of the existing Law, the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson are appointed by a decree of the President.
The SCA is of the view that the process currently enshrined in the Law is not sufficiently broad and transparent. In particular, it does not:
– require the advertisement of vacancies;
– establish clear and uniform criteria upon which all parties assess the merit of eligible applicants; and
– promote broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process.
It is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent and participatory selection and appointment process for an NHRI’s decision-making body in relevant legislation, regulations or binding administrative guidelines, as appropriate. A process that promotes merit-based selection and ensures pluralism is necessary to ensure the independence of, and public confidence in, the senior leadership of an NHRI.
The SCA notes that the NCHRF has proposed extensive amendments to section 6 of the Law to provide that vacancies be advertised, and for the use of an ad hoc committee in screening candidates. These amendments, if passed, would substantially address the SCA’s previously stated concerns regarding selection and appointment. However, the SCA notes that the ad hoc committee is comprised primarily of political representatives, and that the draft law does not specify the process for achieving participation of civil society in the application, screening, selection and appointment process.
The SCA encourages the NCHRF to continue to advocate for the formalization and application of a process that includes requirements to:
a) Publicize vacancies broadly;
b) Maximize the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups and educational qualifications;
c) Promote broad consultation and / or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process;
d) Assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined, objective and publicly-available criteria; and
e) Select members to serve in their individual capacity rather than on behalf of the organization they represent.”
Section 11.1 of the Law provides that the Secretary-General is appointed by a decree of the President.
The SCA emphasizes that a fundamental requirement of the Paris Principles is that an NHRI is, and is perceived to be, able to operate independent of government interference. The SCA is of the view that this practice has the potential to impact on the perceived independence of the NHRI.
It recommends that the law provides that the Secretary-General be recruited through an open, merit-based selection process. Until such time as an amendment to this effect can be adopted, the SCA encourages the NCHRF to pursue policy and/or administrative measures to provide the NCHRF with greater control over the process, including by setting the selection criteria and by participating in the evaluation of candidates.”