“The SCA notes that an amendment to the GIHR statute, and Section 27(5) stipulates that the voting members of the Board of Trustees may resolve, by a majority of 10 members, to allow deliberations and decisions on strategic issues related to the independent fulfilment of the institution’s mandate to take place without the non-voting members. In this regard non-voting members according to Section 24(2) predominantly include government members.

The SCA notes however, that two members of the GIHR’s Board of Trustees are members of the Federal Parliament, and these members still have voting rights.

The NHRI has indicated that the presence and voting rights of members of parliament reinforces the institution’s democratic legitimacy. However, an NHRI is required to be independent of government in its composition, operation, and decision-making. It must be constituted and empowered to consider and determine its strategic priorities and activities based solely on its determination of the human rights priorities in the country, free from political interference.

For these reasons, government representatives and members of parliament should not be members of, nor participate in the decision-making of, organs of an NHRI. Their membership of, and participation in, the decision-making body of the NHRI has the potential to impact on 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 the meeting where final deliberations and strategic decisions are made, and they should not be able to vote on these matters.

Reiterating its previous recommendation in November 2013 and 2015, the SCA encourages the GIHR to advocate for the necessary changes in its governance structure and accordingly amend the law.”