“In accordance with section 29(1) of the Act, the HRADC must investigate any complaint it receives, unless before commencing or during the investigation it decides not to do so because:

a) the complaint is not within its jurisdiction;

b) the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith;

c) the complainant, or a person acting on his or her behalf, has brought proceedings relating to the same matter in a court or tribunal;

d) the complainant has another remedy or channel of complaint available that could reasonably be expected to use;

e) the complainant has not a sufficient interest in the complaint;

f) the person alleged to be aggrieved does not desire that the complaint to be investigated;

g) the complaint has been delayed too long to justify an investigation;

h) the HRADC has before it matters more worthy of its attention;

i) HRADC lack of resources for an adequate investigation, and may defer or discontinue an investigation for any of these reasons.

The SCA is concerned that the wording of subsection 29(1)(h) suggests that some human rights complaints have more intrinsic value than others. While the SCA acknowledges the necessity for an NHRI to be able to manage a complaints-handling process efficiently through criteria for triage, it considers the wording of this provision to be against the spirit of human rights. Accordingly, the SCA encourages the HRADC to advocate for an amendment of the Act to remove subsection 29(1)(h).

Where an NHRI has been provided with a mandate to receive and consider complaints alleging violations of human rights, an NHRI should ensure that complaints are dealt with fairly, transparently, efficiently, expeditiously, and with consistency. In order to do so, an NHRI should:

– ensure that its facilities, staff, and its practices and procedures, facilitate access by those who allege their rights have been violated and their representatives; and

– ensure that its complaint-handling procedures are contained in written guidelines and that these are publicly available.”