NHRC’s Accreditation Deferred by Global Alliance, May Lose Top Level Ranking: Report

Lack of diversity in staff and leadership, political interference in appointments and police officers’ involvement in investigations of human rights violations are some of the reasons given for the move.

New Delhi: A global alliance of human rights organisations has deferred the accreditation of India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for the second time since it was first recognised by the international body in 1999, Article 14 reported

Lack of diversity in staff and leadership, political interference in appointments, police officers’ involvement in investigations of human rights violations, lack of cooperation with civil society and Insufficient action to protect marginalised groups are some of the reasons given by the alliance for NHRC’s deferred status, according to the report.

Global Alliance of National Human Right Commission (GANHRI) works with the UN Human Rights Office, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as other international and regional organisations to review the performance of national human rights institutions across the world.

The alliance put NHRC’S ‘A’ status on hold during the latest round of accreditation in March this year. If the NHRC does not address the alliance’s concerns then it may be downgraded to a ‘B’ status during the next review in 2024, the report said.

Of the 13 countries up for review this year, the accreditation status of only two other countries–Costa Rica and Northern Ireland–was deferred. 

In 2016 too, the NHRC’s accreditation was deferred by a year after which it received an ‘A’ rating in 2017. 

All national human rights institutions that hold an ‘A’ status are subject to re-accreditation every five years. Decisions on accreditation are deferred when institutions fail to comply fully with the Paris Principles. GANHRI’s sub committee on accreditation meets in Geneva twice every year to consider accreditation applications.

Human rights groups and activists in India welcomed GANHRI’s decision, arguing that it reflected the deteriorating situation of human rights in the country, as well as the NHRC’s failure to come to the aid of human rights defenders, Article 14’s reported. The NHRC is currently headed by former Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra.

In its 2017 recommendations, the GANHRI sub committee has asked the NHRC to address its lack of diversity—there were no women or representatives from other marginalised social groups among five Commission members at the time, and only 20% of the staff were women, the report said. 

An amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act in 2019 sought to address these concerns that increased members of the commission from five to sex, and made chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities deemed members of the NHRC.