“The SCA reiterates its acknowledgement of the challenging financial situation in which the NIHRC operates. The SCA notes the report of the NIHRC that the Government has also indicated the need to plan a further 5% contingency to meet any unexpected costs that may arise during the current three-year fiscal cycle.
At its October 2021 Session, the SCA noted that “The NIHRC reports that it is operating within a progressively restricted funding environment that has already required it to suspend, limit, or prioritize operations and cease planned recruitment, leaving them 20% below what they considered minimum capacity. In addition, the institution is imminently facing a further proposed annual 5% budget cut until 2025. This will impact its ability to fulfil its core mandate under the Paris Principles.”
The SCA therefore 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 NHRI’s operations and the fulfilment of its mandate. Provision of adequate funding by the State should, at a minimum, include the following:
- 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
- salaries and benefits awarded to 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 a well-functioning communications system including telephone and internet; and
- the allocation of a sufficient amount of resources for mandated activities.
The SCA further reiterates that both the current and prospective funding position as described by the NIHRC is very serious and time sensitive, and strongly recommends that an improved and sustainable position is reached within this deferral period.
The SCA notes the report of the NIHRC that the outcome of the Independent Review will constitute a basis for a sustainable funding position to enable it to fulfil its mandate with certainty into the future. The SCA recommends that the NIHRC advocate for the inclusion in the outcome of the independent review, a recommendation to ensure an appropriate and adequate level of funding to effectively carry out its mandate. The SCA recommends the open engagement between the NHRI and the State to ensure all budgetary issues are resolved quickly, appropriately, and in a sustainable manner.”