“In accordance with paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 1 of the Act, the Chair of the SHRC is appointed by Her Majesty on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament. In accordance with Rule 3.11 of the Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, a selection panel consisting of the convener of the most relevant Committee of the Scottish Parliament and between four and seven other Members of Parliament makes a recommendation on the appointment.
Further, in accordance with paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 1 of the Act, the other members of the SHRC are appointed by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, which is chaired by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and consist of at least four other Members of Parliament drawn from government and the opposition parties.
While acknowledging that, in practice, the selection and appointment processes for the Chair and members are conducted in an open and transparent manner, the SCA is of the view that these processes, as provided for in the enabling law, are not sufficiently broad and transparent. In particular, they do not:
– require the advertisement of vacancies;
– establish clear and uniform criteria;
– ensure that such criteria are uniformly used to assess the merit of all eligible applicants; and
– promote broad participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process.
It is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent and participatory selection and appointment process for the NHRI’s decision-making body in relevant legislation, regulations or binding administrative guidelines, as appropriate. A process that promotes merit-based selection and ensures pluralism is necessary to ensure the independence of, and public confidence in, the senior leadership of an NHRI.
The SCA acknowledges that the SHRC sought to address the previous SCA recommendations with regard to the selection and appointment of Commissioners and has engaged in further dialogue with the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body in this regard.
The SCA encourages the SHRC to continue to advocate for amendments to its enabling law to ensure the formalization of a process that includes requirements to:
a) Publicize vacancies broadly;
b) Maximize the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups and educational qualifications;
c) Promote broad consultation and / or participation especially of civil society organizations in the application, screening, selection and appointment process;
d) assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined, objective and publicly-available criteria; and
e) Select members to serve in their individual capacity rather than on behalf of the organization they represent.”