“The DPRP reports that its allocated budget is the lowest of any institution in Panama and is not sufficient to discharge its mandate effectively, including its requirements related to staffing and infrastructure. It further reports that its budget has been decreased as a political punishment due to malpractices of the former administration. The DPRP reports to have requested four (4) reviews on its projected budget due to the insufficient allocation of funds.
Furthermore, the DPRP informs that its offices are not accessible to persons with disabilities.
The SCA acknowledges that the DPRP’s financial situation is critical, as it is not allowing the DRPR to recruit and retain its technical employees or to improve its premises. Further, due to financial constraints, the DPRP has not been able to establish its NPM structure despite having been designated as the NPM.
The SCA emphasizes that, to function effectively, an NHRI must be provided with an appropriate level of funding in order to guarantee its ability to freely determine its priorities and activities. In particular, adequate funding should, to a reasonable degree, ensure the gradual and progressive realization of improvement in the NHRI’s operations and the fulfilment of its mandate.
Provision of adequate funding by the State should, at a minimum, include the following:
a) The allocation of funds for premises which are accessible to the wide community, including for persons, including for persons with disabilities. In certain circumstances, in order to promote independence and accessibility, this may require that offices are not co-located with government agencies. Where possible, accessibility should be further enhanced by establishing a permanent regional presence;
b) Salaries and benefits awarded to staff comparable to those of civil servants performing similar tasks in other independent institutions of the State;
c) Remuneration of members of the decision-making body (where appropriate);
d) The establishment of a well-functioning communications system including telephone and internet; and
e) The allocation of a sufficient amount of resources for mandated activities. Where the NHRI has been designated with additional responsibilities by the State, additional financial resources should be provided to enable it to assume the responsibilities of discharging these functions.
Government funding should be allocated to a separate budget line applicable only to the NHRI. Such funding should be regularly released and in a manner that does not impact adversely on its functions, day-to-day management and retention of staff.
The SCA encourages DPRP to continue to advocate for an appropriate level of funding to carry out its mandate, and in particular to secure sufficient funding to establish an effective NPM structure.”