“The SCA acknowledges the passage of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, which re-established the Constitutional Council as the body that oversees the appointment of members of the HRCSL, as well as other independent state institutions. The members of the HRCSL are appointed by the President based on the recommendations of the Constitutional Council. The Constitutional Council comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, four members of Parliament and three persons nominated by the Speaker in agreement with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

The HRCSL reports that, in practice, the three members of the Constitutional Council who are not members of Parliament are essentially representatives of civil society.

However, the SCA is of the view that the current process is not sufficiently broad and transparent and does not formalise the participation of civil society. In particular, it does not formally: – require the advertisement of vacancies; and – promote broad consultation and / or participation of civil society in the application, screening, selection and appointment process.

 The SCA is of the view that it is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent, and participatory selection and appointment process of the NHRI’s decisionmaking body in relevant legislation, regulations or binding administrative guidelines, as appropriate. A process that promotes merit-based selection and ensures pluralism is necessary to ensure the independence of, and public confidence in, the senior leadership of an NHRI.

The SCA recommends that the HRCSL advocates for the formalization of the selection process to include requirements to:

  1. Publicize vacancies broadly;
  2. Maximize the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups;
  3. Promote broad consultation and / or participation, including of civil society, in the application, screening, selection and appointment process; and
  4.  d) Assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined, objective and publicly available criteria.

The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.1 and to its General Observation 1.8 on ‘Selection and appointment of the decision-making body of NHRIs’.”