In the course of their work, the compliance of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) with the UN Paris Principles could come under threat, such as through a reduction in formal independence, a reduction in mandate, budget cuts or the removal of office holders. NHRI staff can also face arrests or attacks due to their work. Providing support for NHRIs in this situation is a core aspect of ENNHRI’s work.
Our Guidelines on ENNHRI Support to NHRIs Under Threat state the principles that drive how we support NHRIs under threat. The document also provides an overview of the options for support available and clarifies the procedures that are followed in such cases. We can provide support through:
- Advice on NHRI accreditation
- Peer support among members, including through network statements, letters from the Chair and dedicated meetings
- Facilitating contact with key international stakeholders (including GANHRI, OHCHR, UNDP, EU, Council of Europe and ODIHR)
- Where appropriate, raising public awareness, including through website, media, members’ networks and relevant stakeholders
Decisions are taken timely and in close cooperation with the NHRI.
ENNHRI is also part of a Contact Group of Partners to Support NHRIs under threat. This was established in 2023 to cooperate on preventing and reacting to threats and challenges faced by NHRIs. More information on the Contact Group will be made available soon.
How to access support
Since 2016, the Polish government has adopted legal reforms impacting on human rights, rule of law and democracy, including the reduction of judicial independence, restrictions on the right of assembly and limitations on funding for civil society organisations. The Polish NHRI (Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights) has issued legal opinions and public statements, joined constitutional complaints, intervened in parliamentary instances and cooperated with international organisations speaking out for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Consequently, the NHRI has faced institutional and individual threats, including budgetary constraints and the undermining of functional immunity. ENNHRI has supported the Polish NHRI by releasing joint statements together with partner organisations, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Global Alliance of NHRIs, the International Ombudsman Institute, the Council of Europe, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and Equinet.
Representatives from ENNHRI and partners met with the office of the NHRI in March 2019, expressing their solidarity and support in light of civil action brought against the Commissioner by a public television station.