“The SCA acknowledges that the NHRCN has proposed a Bill with significant amendments to the NHRC Act, in line with the Paris Principles, and has conducted consultations with civil society organizations and experts in this regard. During its interview with the SCA, the NHRCN reported further that it has received support from parliamentarians on the proposed Bill. 

The proposed Bill provides for the advertisement of vacancies at the NHRCN and the establishment of a shortlisting committee of three members ‘who have made distinguished contribution in the fields of law, justice, human rights and social sector’. The SCA is of the view that this provision, if passed, will work towards addressing the SCA’s concerns on the selection and appointment process. 

The SCA encourages the NHRCN to ensure that the Bill also establishes mechanisms to support pluralism and diversity among members of the NHRCN, including gender and other marginalized groups. The SCA considers the pluralistic composition of the NHRI to be fundamentally linked to the requirement of independence, credibility, effectiveness, and accessibility. 

It is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent, and participatory selection and appointment process of the NHRI’s decision-making body in relevant legislation, regulations, or binding administrative guidelines, as appropriate. A process that promotes merit-based selection and ensures pluralism is necessary to ensure the independence of, and public confidence in, the senior leadership of an NHRI. 

The SCA recommends that the NHRCN continue to advocate for the passage of the proposed Bill and ensure that it complies with the requirements of the Paris Principles and General Observations, in particular on the selection and appointment process, providing for a process that includes requirements to: 

– Publicize vacancies broadly; 

– Maximize the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups; 

– Promote broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection and 

appointment process; 

– Assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined, objective, and publicly available criteria; and 

– Select members to serve in their own individual capacity rather than on behalf of the organization they represent. 

The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.1 and to its General Observation 1.8 on ‘Selection and appointment of the decision-making body of NHRIs’ and 1.7 on ‘Ensuring pluralism of the NHRI’.”