“The SCA notes information from the Committee against Torture (CAT/C/MWI/CO/1) 2023 and the MHRC stating that inadequate funding that has impacted its ability to effectively implement its mandate including under the Access to Information Act and Gender Equality Act. 

The MHRC states that it continues to engage with the Office of the President, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Justice which has resulted in a 41% increase in funding and the budget ceiling. The MHRC has also engaged with development partners to get additional funding for the implementation of mandated activities such as monitoring of places of deprivation of liberty. 

The SCA notes that despite the increase in funding, the MHRC has reported a shortfall of 40% in its budget and that it operates at 48% staff capacity with over half of its established positions unfilled. The MHRC further reports that it requires more resources to: get suitable office premises; establish regional offices; implement additional mandate areas under the Access to Information Act and Gender Equality Act; and to increase the capacity of its members and staff on emerging thematic issues including minority rights, climate change, and environmental justice. 

The SCA emphasizes that, to function effectively, an NHRI must be provided with an appropriate level of funding in order to guarantee its independence and its ability to freely determine its priorities and activities. It must also have the power to allocate funding according to its priorities. 

In particular, adequate funding should, to a reasonable degree, ensure the gradual and progressive realisation of the improvement of the NHRI’s operations and the fulfilment of its mandate. Provision of adequate funding by the State should, as a minimum, include the following: 

– The allocation of funds for premises which are accessible to the wider community, including for persons with disabilities. In certain circumstances, in order to promote independence and accessibility, this may require that offices are not co-located with other government agencies. Where possible, accessibility should be further enhanced by establishing a permanent regional presence; 

– salaries and benefits awarded to its staff comparable to those of civil servants performing similar tasks in other independent institutions of the State; 

– remuneration of members of its decision-making body (where appropriate); 

– the establishment of well-functioning communications systems including telephone and internet; and 

– the allocation of a sufficient amount of resources for mandated activities. Where the NHRI has been designated with additional responsibilities by the State, additional financial resources should be provided to enable it to assume the responsibilities of discharging these functions. 

The SCA recommends that the MHRC continue to advocate for an appropriate level of funding to effectively carry out its mandate including under the Access to Information Act and Gender Equality Act, for suitable office premises, to establish regional offices, and to increase the capacity of its members and staff on emerging thematic issues including but not limited to minority rights, climate change, and environmental justice. 

The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.2 and to its General Observation 1.10 on ‘Adequate funding of NHRIs’.”