“In accordance with the Law, Parliament appoints the Defensor.
The SCA acknowledges that the DPS reports that, in practice, its selection process is transparent and participatory, and that civil society organizations can participate in this process through members of parliament. Further, the DPS reports that, while vacancies are not formally advertised, the public is aware that the selection process will take place as a result of media attention surrounding the expiration of the term of the Defensor.
However, the SCA is of the view that the selection process currently enshrined in the existing Law is not sufficiently broad and transparent in that it does not:
– require the advertisement of vacancies;
– specify the process for achieving broad consultation and/or 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 an 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 encourages the DPS to continue to advocate for the formalization and application 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 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.
With respect to the involvement of civil society in the parliamentary process for selecting the Defensor, the SCA is of the view that this involvement should be direct rather than through members of Parliament. This could be achieved, for example, by:
– directly soliciting proposals from civil society;
– allowing civil society to directly participate in the evaluation process.”