“While the SCA acknowledges that the Ombudsman’s budget has increased since 2017 and that it has utilized its existing budget to undertake relevant activities, it notes that the Ombudsman has reported that it does not have sufficient funding, particularly in view of its efforts to conduct more research and advocacy activities on emerging issues such as the human rights implications of technology.
The SCA emphasizes 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:
a) The allocation of funds for premises, which 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 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 the 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. Where the NHRI has been designated with additional responsibilities by the State, additional financial resources should be provided to enable it to assume the responsibilities of discharging these functions.
The SCA encourages the Ombudsman to continue to advocate for an appropriate level of funding to carry out its mandate effectively and independently.“