“Section 11 of the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA) requires the Central Government to make available to the NHRC a police officer of the rank of Director General of Police or above, and such officers as necessary for the efficient performance of the NHRC.

The SCA notes the response of the NHRC that:

– Police officers are appointed by the Union of Public Service Commission and are independent from government influence.

– Police officers covering investigation activities are needed for the NHRC effective operation.

– The selection of police officers to serve in the NHRC Investigations Department is the sole prerogative of the NHRC.

– Police officers who are on secondment work under the direction and control of the NHRC which ensures that they are independent from government influence in the implementation of their duties. – The NHRC has investigated and sanctioned 792 police officers for human rights violations and has ordered compensation for victims.

While taking note of these responses, the SCA continues to be concerned about the perceived or real conflict of interest in having police officers seconded from government engaged in investigations of human rights violations including those committed by police. The SCA reiterates its concern that the secondment of police officers to act as investigative staff may impact on their ability to conduct impartial investigations as well as the ability of victims to access human rights justice.

The SCA further notes that the NHRC has not provided information on steps taken to address SCA recommendations made in this regard in November 2017 and March 2023. The SCA therefore recommends that the NHRC advocate for amendments to section 11 of the PHRA and to amend its investigative structure to remove the capacity of government to second police officers to acts as investigative staff.

The SCA refers to Paris Principles B1, B.2 and B.3 and to its General Observation 2.4 on ‘Recruitment and retention of NHRI staff’.”