“While the SCA acknowledges that the four (4) representatives from Government Ministries within the decision-making body of the NHRC do not have voting rights, the SCA highlights the lack of clarity as to the current vice-chair’s relationship to the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME). The SCA acknowledges the value in developing and maintaining effective links with relevant Ministers and Government Agencies, particularly where cooperation will assist in promoting the NHRI’s mandate. However, it stresses that this must be done in a way that ensures both real and perceived independence of decision-making and operation. The SCA invites the NHRC to ensure that the real and perceived independence of the NHRC decision-making body is protected to ensure it can retain the public’s trust in its ability to fulfil its mandate.
The SCA notes that the Paris Principles require an NHRI to be independent from Government in its structure, composition, decision-making, and method of operation. It must be constituted and empowered to consider and determine the strategic priorities and activities of the NHRI based solely on its determination of the human rights priorities in the country, free from political interference. For these reasons, government representatives and members of parliament should not be members of, nor participate in, the decision-making of organs of an NHRI. Their membership of, and participation in, the decision-making body of the NHRI has the potential to impact on both the real and perceived independence of the NHRI.
The SCA recognizes that it is important to maintain effective working relationships, and where relevant, to consult with government. However, this should not be achieved through the participation of government representatives in the decision-making body of the NHRI.”