“Section 11 of the Act requires that the Central Government seconds to the NHRI a police officer of the rank of Director General of the Police or above to take the position of Director (Investigations).
Further, the NHRCI reports that its investigative officers are taken on a deputation basis from various police forces and the Intelligence Bureau.
The SCA again emphasizes 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 question about its capacity to function fully independently.
The SCA acknowledges the position of the NHRCI that 1) these individuals know how the system works and, as a result, are able to unearth truth in cases where others could not, 2) they are thorough professionals who are selected after a detailed background check as to their integrity and professional acumen, 3) they are accountable to the NHRCI and no one else, and 4) their reports are not determinative but rather are meant to inform the decisions of Members who decide the formal course of action.
The SCA continues to be of the view that for victims of abuses by police, 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 the ability to conduct impartial investigations as well as the ability of victims to access human rights justice.
The SCA acknowledges with appreciation the efforts made by the NHRCI to ensure that investigations involving allegations of human rights violations against the police or security forces are carried out in a way that ensures civilian involvement and oversight. It encourages it to continue these efforts with a view to standardizing this practice for investigations involving police and security forces, with a view to strengthening the independence and impartiality of these investigations. The SCA further encourages the NHRCI to diversify the composition of its investigative team beyond police officers.”