Review of India’s human rights accreditation status deferred

timer
1 min read
Review of India’s human rights accreditation status deferred Blog Image

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • What is National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?
  • What is Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI)?
  • NHRC-India accreditation status review

Why in News?

The Geneva-based, United Nations-linked Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) deferred the accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission-India (NHRC) for the second year in a row.

This is the first time India’s status has been suspended for two years in a row, in 2023 and in 2024.

The decision was taken during the meeting of the Sub Committee on Accreditation (SCA) on May 1, 2024. This decision could now affect India’s ability to vote at the Human Rights Council and some UNGA bodies.

What is National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?

  • About
    • The National Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993
    • The Commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country.
  • Composition of NHRC
    • The Commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairperson and five members.
    • The chairperson should be a retired chief justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court.
    • Members should be a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and three persons (out of which at least one should be a woman) having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights.
  • Appointment & Tenure
    • The chairperson and members are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of:
      • Prime Minister as its head; Speaker of the Lok Sabha; Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha; Leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament; Central Home Minister
    • The chairperson and members are appointed for the term of 3 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
    • The chairperson and members are eligible for reappointment

What is Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI)?

  • About
    • The Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) is an organisation affiliated to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
    • It is a global network of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) that works to promote and protect human rights.
      • GANHRI represents 120 NHRIs from around the world. 
    • GANHRI's mission is to unite, promote, and strengthen NHRIs to operate in line with the UN Paris Principles.
  • Accreditation by the GANHRI
    • Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) reviews NHRIs every five years, and there is an appeal process for NHRIs to ensure greater transparency and due process.
    • In a unique peer-review-based accreditation process, GANHRI ensures individual NHRIs’ compliance with internationally recognised standards – the Paris Principles – to ensure their independence, pluralism and accountability.
      • The Paris Principles set out internationally agreed minimum standards that NHRIs must meet to be considered credible.
      • The six principles require a country‘s human rights agency to be independent from the government in its structure, composition, decision-making and method of operation.
    • An NHRI is reviewed by the SCA when –
      • It applies for initial accreditation
      • It applies for re-accreditation every five years
      • The circumstances of the NHRI change in any way that may affect its compliance with the Paris Principles.
    • NHRIs that are assessed as complying with the Paris Principles are accredited with ‘A status’, while those that partially comply are accredited with ‘B status’.
      • This accreditation status affects a country’s ability to vote at the UN Human Rights Council and some UNGA bodies.
  • India’s accreditation
    • India’s NHRC got ‘A’ status of accreditation for the first time in 1999, which it retained in 2006, 2011, and in 2017 after it was deferred for a year.

NHRC-India accreditation status review

  • Background
    • The NHRC’s ratings were put on hold in 2023 over concerns on:
      • its composition procedure, 
      • the presence of police personnel in human rights investigations, and 
      • the lack of gender and minority representation.
    • On May 1, 2024, NHRC’s performance was again be reviewed in order to decide on the accreditation status.
  • Observations made by SCA
    • The committee’s latest report is still awaited.
    • However, its previous report (2023 report) had cited a number of reasons for recommending the deferral. These included: 
      • the lack of transparency in appointing members to the NHRC, 
      • the appointment of police officers to oversee human rights investigations, and 
      • the lack of gender and minority representation on the member panel.
  • India’s stand
    • GANHRI wanted India to make some structural changes and incorporate a few suggestions given by them. 
    • However, this was not possible at this time due to the ongoing general elections in India.

Q.1. What is Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA)?

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) is a part of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) that reviews and accredits National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). The SCA's judgments are accepted by the international community.

Q.2. What are Paris Principles?

The Paris Principles are a set of principles that require national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to be independent, have a broad mandate, and have adequate powers and resources.

Source: UN-linked body defers NHRC-India accreditation for second year in a row | NHRC | GANHRI