“Section 11 of the PHRA requires that the Central Government makes available to the NHRC a police officer of the rank of Director General of the Police or above, and other such officers as necessary, for the efficient performance of the Commission. The NHRC reports that police officers covering its investigative activities are needed for its effective operation.
The SCA reiterates that a fundamental requirement of the Paris Principles is that an NHRI is, and is perceived to be, able to operate independent of government interference. Where an NHRI’s members are seconded from the public service, and in particular where this includes those at the highest level in the NHRI, it raises questions about its capacity to fully function independently. The SCA notes that this concern was raised with the NHRC at its last review in November 2017 and has not been addressed.
The SCA acknowledges the position of the NHRC that these individuals help in the strengthening of its investigation mechanism. However, the SCA reemphasizes that there may be a real or perceived conflict of interest in having police officers engaged in the investigation of human rights violations, particularly those committed by the police, and this may impact on their ability to conduct impartial investigations as well as the ability of victims to access human rights justice.
The SCA recommends that the NHRC advocate for amendments to the PHRA and amend its investigative structure to remove the capacity for government to second police officers to act as investigative staff, ensuring that the NHRC can independently appoint suitably qualified staff to such positions.
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’.”