ENNHRI comments on the proposal for the establishment of an NHRI in Sweden
On 22 May, ENNHRI contributed to the consultation on the proposal for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in Sweden. We welcome the steps taken by Sweden but identify elements in the draft proposal that appear to fall short of providing the future NHRI with the independence safeguards under the UN Paris Principles.
The establishment of an NHRI has been a long-standing issue in Sweden. In 2017, the Swedish Parliament took the position that predominant reasons militated against placing the NHRI under its authority. In 2018, the Swedish government commissioned a study on the NHRI establishment. The report, including a draft legislative proposal on the establishment of a Swedish NHRI, has recently been made the subject of consultation with civil society organisations and national stakeholders.
ENNHRI’s comments on the proposal
ENNHRI welcomes the steps taken by the Swedish government and other national authorities in relation to the recent legislative proposal. The establishment of an A-status NHRI in Sweden has the potential to further strengthen the human rights framework in Sweden.
While fully acknowledging the domestic legal framework and the history behind this legislative proposal, ENNHRI is concerned that the current draft proposal appears to fall short of providing the prospective NHRI with the independence safeguards that can be found under the UN Paris Principles. Among other issues:
- The Swedish NHRI would be established as a new authority under the government. States retain the mandate to select the institutional model and the appropriate legal framework for the establishment of NHRIs. However, this faculty is subject to the requirements under the UN Paris Principles, including those related to the independence of NHRIs, both in law and in practice.
- The Swedish NHRI would submit annual reports to the government on its activities and observations of developments in the area of human rights. The UN Paris Principles make explicit reference to the submission of annual reports to Parliament in addition to government.
- There are other elements in the proposal that could be further aligned with the UN Paris Principles, such as on the dismissal of the NHRI’s decision making-body and the possibility for the government to instruct the NHRI to carry out specific tasks.
ENNHRI’s work on the establishment of NHRIs
One of ENNHRI core objectives is to assist NHRIs on accreditation and compliance with the UN Paris Principles, as well as to cooperate with national stakeholders for the establishment of such NHRIs in countries where they do not yet exist. When providing advice on this topic, ENNHRI bases its analysis on the UN Paris Principles, the General Observations of GANHRI’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation(SCA) and the SCA’s practice.
The SCA can give recommendations on compliance with the UN Paris Principles once the eventual NHRI is established and is under review for accreditation; compliance is ultimately decided upon by the GANHRI Bureau.
For more information on ENNHRI support for the establishment and accreditation of NHRIs, contact Katrien Meuwissen, Senior Human Rights Officer (Accreditation).
Photo: Front page of the Proposal (transl. Proposal for a National Human Rights Institution in Sweden)