India: Open letter to NHRC-India on its press release on re-accreditation

Hon. Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) India
Faridkot House Copernicus Marg, New Delhi – 110001 India
Fax No: + 91 11 2338 4863


Dear Justice Balakrishan,

Greetings from the ANNI!

We are writing to you to express our deep concern and regret regarding the issuance of a press release by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) India on its re-accreditation result before a final decision of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC-NHRIs). We are further concerned at the subsequent NHRC India's selective disclosure of recommendations by the Sub-Committee of Accreditation (SCA) of ICC-NHRIs.

The re-accreditation review by ICC-SCA of the NHRC India, which held 'A' status with ICC-NHRIs, took place on 23 May 2011. The All India Network of NGOs and Individuals working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI), the ANNI member from India, submitted on 21 January 2011 a shadow report titled 'A NGO Report on the Compliance with the Paris Principles by the National Human Rights Commission of India' ( for the NHRC India's re-accreditation review by ICC-SCA.

The AiNNI report challenged the present 'A' status of the NHRC India stating that many fatal flaws in the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA) 1993, the NHRC India's founding law, have affected all areas of the NHRC India's work and basic functioning. For instance, regarding the composition of the NHRC India under the section 3 of PHRA, 3 out of 5 commissioners are bound to be from the higher judiciary. This however is in contradiction with the Article 4 of the Paris Principles which stipulates the pluralist representation of the social forces. Such composition does not also guarantee knowledge or insight of human rights of the commissioners of the NHRC India. The AiNNI report then called on the ICC-SCA to make a critical review of the NHRC India, in order that it can better tackle human rights challenges in India in 2011.

On 8 June 2011, recommendations by ICC-SCA were forwarded to the NHRC India, providing it with the opportunity to challenge these recommendations within 28 days as stipulated in the Rules of Procedure for the ICC-SCA. However, on 10 June 2011, the NHRC India issued a press release titled 'NHRC India retains its 'A' status in its accreditation with ICC' (

Firstly, ANNI is deeply disturbed and concerned that the press release of the NHRC India was issued before the final decision of the ICC-NHRI regarding the status of the NHRC India. The press release by the NHRC India was against the Rules of Procedure for the ICC-SCA as it pre-empted the final decision of the ICC-NHRIs and undermined the integrity of the re-accreditation process of ICC-SCA. Article 6.1 of the Rules of Procedure for the ICC-SCA states that 'where the Sub-Committee on Accreditation comes to an accreditation recommendation, it shall forward that recommendation to the ICC Bureau [for its] final decision," which means that the recommendations of the ICC-SCA were not final. Furthermore, ANNI understands that these processes are in principle confidential until the ICC-NHRIs Bureau finally endorses the same. ANNI believes it was due to this reason of confidentiality that even though AiNNI sent a letter to ICC-NHRIs seeking clarification on the press release made by the NHRC India, AiNNI was unable to receive any clarification from the ICC-NHRIs. The final report of the ICC-SCA's May 2011 session was endorsed by ICC-NHRIs Bureau and was made public only on 29 August 2011 at the ICC-NHRIs website.

Secondly, ANNI expresses its deep regret that the press release of the NHRC India only selectively disclosed some of the ICC-SCA recommendations and did not mention the conditional elements of recommendations. For instance, the NHRC India highlights the existence of Core/Expert Groups as the means by which it complies with Article C (g) of the Paris Principles and Article 1.5 of the ICC-SCA General Observation for pluralism and engagement with civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights defenders (HRDs). ICC-SCA however notes that information provided by CSOs, including those actually represented on the Core/Expert Groups, indicates that these mechanisms are not functioning effectively as a means of engagement and cooperation between the NHRC and CSOs in India. ICC-SCA will again consider this issue at its first session in 2013. The conditions set out by the ICC-NHRIs to the NHRC India to ensure its independence and effectiveness, which echoes the concerns raised in the shadow report by AiNNI, are of important public interest. Through the omission of this information, earlier press release by the NHRC India misled the public and CSOs in India on the recommendations made by ICC-SCA.

In this regard, ANNI would like to sincerely urge the NHRC India to respect the integrity of the re-accreditation process of the ICC-NHRIs. NHRC India should not attempt to discourage or dissuade critical CSOs and HRDs that positively respond to the invitation of the ICC-CSA for information on their NHRIs for the accreditation and re-accreditation process. On the contrary, there should be in-country consultations between NHRIs and CSOs on the NHRI report to the ICC-SCA, before and after the accreditation and re-accreditation review. This will ensure the full, transparent and meaningful participation of all stakeholders in re-accreditation process of the NHRC India at national level, as envisaged by the Kandy Program of Action of 1999.

The ANNI remains committed to work on the development of independent, effective, transparent and accountable NHRIs for the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, and to foster the culture which human rights are respected.

Sincerely Yours,

Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI)

  • ADVAR – Iran
  • Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) – Bangladesh
  • All India Network of NGOs and Individuals Working With National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI) – India
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • Cambodian League for Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO) – Cambodia
  • Cambodian Working Group for the Establishment of an NHRI (CWG) – Cambodia
  • Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) – Mongolia
  • Citizens' Council for Human Rights Japan (CCHRJ) – Japan
  • Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) – Indonesia
  • Defenders of Human Rights Center – Iran
  • Education and Research Association for Consumer Education (ERA Consumer) – Malaysia
  • Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM) – Hong Kong
  • Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (ALKARAMA)
  • Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL) – Indonesia
  • Indonesian NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (HRWG) – Indonesia
  • Informal Service Sector Center (INSEC) – Nepal
  • Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) – Indonesia
  • International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – Iran
  • Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) – Timor Leste
  • Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF) – Thailand
  • Korea House for International Solidarity (KHIS) – South Korea
  • Law and Society Trust (LST) – Sri Lanka
  • Lawyers' League for Liberty (LIBERTAS) – Philippines
  • Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) – Maldives
  • Odhikar – Bangladesh
  • People's Watch (PW) – India
  • Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) – Philippines
  • Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) – Malaysia
  • Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) – Taiwan
  • Universal Periodic Review –Human Rights Forum (UPR – HR Forum) – Bangladesh


Dr. Muhyieddeen Touq
Chairperson, ICC-NHRIs
Fax: + 962-6-5930072

Ms. Katharina Rose
ICC – NHRIs Geneva Representative

Mr. Vladlen Stefanov
Chief, National Institutions and
Regional Mechanism Section (NIRMS)
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Mr. Kieren Fitzpatrick
Director, Asia Pacific Forum of National
Human Rights Institutions (APF)
Fax: +61 2 9284 9825

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