“The SCA notes the information received regarding the adoption of the 20th Amendment in 2020, which significantly changed the selection and appointment process for members of HRCSL in such a manner that could compromise its independence. The 20th Amendment abolished the Constitutional Council, a 10-member body with three seats reserved for civil society representatives tasked to recommend candidates for appointment as HRCSL Commissioners. In its place, the 20th Amendment reinstated the Parliamentary Council, composed exclusively of members of parliament, with the power to make observations only to the President of the Republic with respect to the appointment of HRCSL Commissioners.

The SCA also notes the information received in third-party submissions that in the recent selection and appointment process in December 2020, the Government did not advertise the vacancies, nor did it detail the criteria for the assessment of the candidates. This resulted in appointments made in a manner that was not wholly transparent to civil society.

The HRCSL was asked to respond to these concerns. The HRCSL reported that as the Parliamentary Council is composed of parliamentarians who represent the public and different groups in society, direct involvement of civil society in the process was not required. The HRCSL also confirmed that the publication of vacancies is not a legal requirement.

In view of the available information before it, the SCA is of the view that the process currently enshrined in law is not sufficiently participatory and transparent. In particular, it does not:

– Require the advertisement of vacancies; and

– Specify the process for achieving broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection, and appointment process.

The SCA is also of the view that the selection and appointment process undertaken in 2020 was not characterized by openness and transparency and did not provide sufficient opportunities for consultation with or participation of civil society.

It is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent, and participatory selection and appointment process of the NHRI’s decision-making 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 encourages the HRCSL to advocate for amendments in the Constitution and in its enabling law to provide for a process that includes requirements to:

a) Publicize vacancies broadly;

b) Maximize the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups;

c) Promote broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process; and

d) Assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined, objective and publicly available criteria.”