The OHRC currently has 6 government representatives who are part of its board of 14 commissioners. While these representatives do not have voting rights according to Article 13 of the Royal Decree No. (57/2022), the presence of government representatives within the membership of the OHRC may impact its real and perceived independence. Additionally, the OHRC Internal Regulations do not contain provisions to exclude these members from attending parts of meetings where deliberations and strategic decisions are made. The OHRC reports that these members assist in carrying out its mandate, while also acknowledging that the number of government representatives is high, reporting further that it is advocating to reduce the number of government representatives. An NHRI is required to be independent of government in its composition, operation, and decision making. Therefore, government representatives and members of parliament should not be members of, nor participate in the decision-making organs of an 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. In order to further promote independence in decision making, and avoid conflicts of interest, an NHRI’s rules of procedure should establish practices to ensure that such persons are unable to influence decision-making by, for example, excluding them from attending parts of meetings where final deliberations and strategic decisions are made.

The SCA encourages the OHRC to continue its advocacy for the necessary changes in its legal framework, to reduce the number of government representatives in its decision-making body and introduce additional measures to limit their involvement in deliberations and strategic decisions.

The SCA refers to Paris Principles B.1, B.2, B.3 and C(a), and to its General Observation 1.9 on ‘Political representatives on NHRIs’.”