“The SCA reiterates its acknowledgement of the challenging financial situation in which the NIHRC operates, and the efforts made to continue working to fulfil the breadth of its mandate. The SCA notes that the NIHRC has been informed by the NIO that the Government will allocate funds for the NIHRC to discharge its functions in the short term. Furthermore, the NIHRC informed the SCA that it received information that the NIO will discuss with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (CST) to arrange for a Comprehensive Budget Review of the NIHRC so that it can fulfil its mandate in the long-term. The NIHRC noted that this is in line with the recommendations made in the independent review.
The SCA reiterates that, to function effectively, an NHRI must be provided with an appropriate level of funding in order to guarantee its ability to freely determine its priorities and activities. In particular, adequate funding should, to a reasonable degree, ensure the gradual and progressive realization of improvement in the NIHRC´s operation and the fulfilment of its mandate. Provisions of an adequate funding by the State should, at a minimum, include the following:
a) The allocation of funds for premises that 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;
b) Salaries and benefits awarded to staff comparable to those of civil servants performing similar tasks in other independent institutions of the State;
c) Remuneration of members of its decision-making body (where appropriate);
d) The establishment of a well-functioning communications system including telephone and internet; and e) The allocation of a sufficient amount of resources for mandated activities.
The SCA recommends that the NIHRC continues to advocate for the implementation of the recommendations made in the independent review in order to ensure an appropriate and adequate level of funding to effectively carry out the breadth of its mandate.
The SCA recommends the open engagement between the NIHRC and the State to ensure all budgetary issues are resolved quickly, appropriately, and in a sustainable manner
. The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.2 and to its General Observation 1.10 on ´Adequate funding of NHRI´s´.”