The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) has deferred the accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission, India (NHRC-India) for the second time in a decade. (Source: The Hindu, 25.05.2023)
What are the reasons behind the deferment by GANHRI?
GANHRI cited several objections, including political interference in appointments, involving the police in probes into human rights violations, poor cooperation with civil society, lack of diversity in staff and leadership, and insufficient action to protect marginalized groups.
Have other human rights organisation raised concerns about the NHRC-India?
This decision by GANHRI came after seven human rights organizations raised concerns about the NHRC-India’s lack of independence, pluralism, diversity, and accountability. These concerns are contrary to the United Nations’ principles on the status of national institutions, known as the Paris Principles.
Amnesty International, CSW, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) jointly wrote a letter to GANHRI expressing their concerns about the functioning of the NHRC-India and its failure to protect the rights of marginalized communities, religious minorities, and human rights defenders.
What is the “Paris Principles”?
The Paris Principles provide international benchmarks for accrediting National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and outline six main criteria. NHRIs needs to meet these criteria. It includes mandate and competence, autonomy from government, independence guaranteed by law, pluralism, adequate resources, and adequate powers of investigation.
What is the status of accreditation process?
Regarding the accreditation process, it is noteworthy that the NHRC-India, established under the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993, has maintained ‘A’ status accreditation since the inception of the accreditation process for NHRIs in 1999. However, despite its longstanding accreditation, there have been multiple instances of deferment, including one in 2017.
What is the response of NHRC-India to the deferment?
In response to the deferment, the NHRC-India stated that the GANHRI’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) has taken the decision. It is responsible for reviewing and accrediting NHRIs every five years. The NHRC-India clarified that the deferment does not affect its ‘A’ status and associated privileges, including voting and participation rights in GANHRI and the Asia Pacific Forum. The reaccreditation process is ongoing, and the SCA has recommended advocating with the government and Parliamentarians for legislative amendments to improve compliance with the Paris Principles. The NHRC-India remains in dialogue with the SCA, and as a result, it will provide a response shortly.
What is National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India NHRC-India?
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established on October 12, 1993. The NHRC is a statutory body in India. It is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. The Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 had created the NHRC. Eventually, the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006 was introduced, which amended the original provisions. These acts define the powers, composition, and functions of the NHRC. The establishment of the NHRC in India is in accordance with the Paris Principles.