“The SCA notes that there are only three (3) staff positions in the human rights unit of the Ombudsman, one of which is currently vacant. The SCA also notes that due to limited staff, the Ombudsman works regularly with consultants and Government Ministries. The Ombudsman reports that in doing this, it also reciprocates, deploying their human rights expertise for different Government Ministries.
A fundamental requirement of the Paris Principles is that an NHRI is, and is perceived to be, able to operate independent of government interference. The SCA highlights that this requirement should not be seen to limit the capacity of an NHRI to hire public servants with the requisite skills and experience. However, the recruitment process for such positions should always be open to all, clear, transparent, merit-based and at the sole discretion of the NHRI. Where an NHRI is required to accept staff assigned to it by the government, and in particular where this includes those at the highest levels in the NHRI, it brings into question its capacity to function independently.
NHRIs must be provided with sufficient resources to permit the employment and retention of staff with the requisite qualifications and experience to fulfil the NHRI’s mandate. Such resources should allow for salary levels, and terms and conditions of employment, equivalent to those of other independent State agencies.
The SCA encourages the Ombudsman to continue advocating for an adequate level of funding so as to permit the employment and retention of staff with the requisite qualifications and experience to fulfil the NHRI’s mandate.
The SCA also encourages the Ombudsman to ensure its independence even while working with external consultants and Government Ministries to implement programs and projects.”