“The definition of human rights contained in Section 33 of the law refers to both civil and political and economic, social, and cultural rights. However, the effect of section 10 (a) of the law is that the SLHRC is mandated to inquire into and investigate complaints relating only to fundamental rights, as opposed to human rights. Chapter 3 of the Constitution is entitled “fundamental rights” and guarantees only a limited set of civil and political rights.
An NHRI’s mandate should be interpreted in a broad, liberal 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.
The SCA acknowledges that the SLHRC interprets its mandate broadly and conducts some activities relating to economic, social, and cultural rights. It further acknowledges that the SLHRC has advocated for the explicit addition of economic, social, and cultural rights in forthcoming amendments to the Constitution, and that the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Fundamental Rights has drafted a Bill of Rights which includes economic, social and cultural rights.
The SCA encourages the SLHRC to continue to interpret its mandate broadly, and to continue its advocacy in favour of the constitutional amendment.”
The SCA acknowledges that the enabling law mandates the SLHRC to access all places of detention, and that the SLHRC has indicated that it considers this sufficient to facilitate its role as NPM.
However, the SCA is of the view that a specific legislative mandate assists in ensuring the NHRI is able to undertake its role effectively and free from interference. The SCA, therefore, encourages the SLHRC to advocate for formalization of its NPM status in legislation.