“Section 11 of the Act requires that the Central Government seconds to the NHRI a civil servant with the rank of Secretary to take the role of Secretary General of the Commission. 

In November 2016, the SCA emphasized 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 again acknowledges the NHRCI’s position that the fact that this individual is seconded from senior levels in the civil service means that he or she has wide knowledge of government functioning and standing among various levels of government, and that the NHRCI is able to reject the candidates proposed by government. The SCA further acknowledges that the NHRCI has advocated for changes to the way in which the Secretary General is appointed to provide that an invitation be made for those who have less than one (1) year of service prior to their retirement from the civil service. 

The SCA continues to be of the view that, notwithstanding the justifications provided and the changes proposed, these practices have a real impact on the perceived independence of the NHRI. It again recommends that the Secretary General be recruited through an open, merit-based selection process. In the interim, the SCA encourages the NHRCI to pursue policy and/or administrative measures to provide the NHRCI with greater control over the process, including by setting the selection criteria and by participating in the evaluation of candidates.”