“Section 2.1 of DIMRG law states that ‘[t]he German Institute for Human Rights (registered association) shall inform the public on the situation of human rights in Germany and abroad and shall contribute to the prevention of the human rights violations and the promotion and protection of human rights’. The GIHR mandate comprises, in particular, the following tasks and functions:
a) informing the public on the situation of human rights in Germany and abroad from a comparative angle – as well as establishing and operating a specialized reference library;
b) academic research and publication;
c) policy advice;
d) educational work at the domestic level;
e) facilitating dialogue as well as national and international cooperation with human rights relevant actors; and
f) analysing the continuing human rights-related effects of totalitarian dictatorships as well as of situations of armed conflict and post-conflict situations, complementing the work of institutions active in this field.
The SCA understands protection activities as those that address and seek to prevent actual human rights violations. Such functions include monitoring, inquiring, investigating, and reporting on human rights violations. Some NHRIs may also have an individual complaint-handling mandate.
The SCA acknowledges that GIHR undertakes certain protection activities through, for example, monitoring activities, including monitoring the child’s rights situation (e.g. setting up the CRC monitoring body); reporting to international and regional human rights mechanisms; submitting amicus curiae briefs to the constitutional court, and holding hearings on various human rights issues, such as the rights of persons with disabilities and refugees. It also acknowledges that the GIHR has been designated as the National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) under the CRPD with monitoring functions, for which it can carry out announced and informal visits to relevant institutions and facilities.
While the SCA acknowledges that the GIHR has made use of its current mandate to protect human rights in practice, it notes that the GIHR also confirms that its inquiry and investigation function is limited as it has no right to access classified documents or to visit certain facilities.
The SCA of the view that an NHRI’s mandate should be interpreted in a broad, liberal, and purposive manner to promote a progressive definition of human rights, which includes all rights set out in international, regional, and domestic instruments, including economic, social, and cultural rights. Specifically, the mandate should:
– extend to the acts and omissions of both the public and private sectors;
– vest the NHRI with the competence to freely address public opinion, raise public awareness on human rights issues and carry out education and training programs;
– provide the authority to address recommendations to public authorities, to analyse the human rights situation in the country, and to obtain statements or documents in order to assess situations raising human rights issues;
– authorize unannounced and free access to inspect and examine any public premises, documents, equipment and assets without prior written notice;
– authorize the full investigation into all alleged human rights violations, including the military, police and security officers.
The SCA encourages the GIHR to advocate for appropriate amendments to its enabling law to strengthen its protection mandate, including its capacity to monitor and have access to places of deprivation of liberty.”