“In accordance with section 6 of the existing Law, four (4) members of the NCHRF are Members of Parliament, two (2) are representatives of the Senate, and four (4) are representatives of government departments in charge of social affairs, justice, penitentiary affairs and women’s affairs, respectively. The SCA notes that, while the representatives of government departments participate only in an advisory capacity, the Members of Parliament and representatives of the Senate have full rights, including voting rights.
The Paris Principles require that an NHRI be independent of government in its composition, operation and decision-making. It must be constituted and empowered to consider and determine the strategic priorities and activities of the NHRI based solely on its determination of the human rights priorities in the country, and free from political interference.
For these reasons, government representatives and members of parliament should not be members of, nor participate in, the decision-making organs of an NHRI. Their membership of, and participation in, the decision-making body of the NHRI has the potential to impact both the real and perceived independence of the NHRI.
The SCA recognizes that it is important to maintain effective working relationships, and, where relevant, consult with government. However, this should not be achieved through the participation of government representatives in the decision-making body of the NHRI.
Where government representatives or members of parliament are included in the decision-making body, they should be excluded from attending parts of meetings where final deliberations and strategic decisions are made, and should not be able to vote on these matters.
The SCA notes that the NCHRF has proposed substantial amendments to article 6 of the Law to remove political representatives from its membership. If passed, these amendments would address the previously stated concerns of the SCA. Accordingly, the SCA encourages the NCHRF to continue to advocate for the passage of the amendments. Until the amendments are passed, the SCA encourages the NCHRF to consider policy options to address the potential independence issue raised by having political representatives present in the decision-making body of the NCHRF.”