The Code of Ethics of NHRC-CPT

هذه الصفحة متاحة أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)

The Code of Ethics of the National Human Rights Commission including the Committee for the Prevention of Torture

 This Code of Ethics draws from the contents of the following instruments: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. The International Covenant for Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The Preamble of The Constitution of Lebanon – Paragraph B. Lebanese Law Number 62 dated 27/10/2016. The UNHCR Code of Conduct.The Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council.  The WHO Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. UNSG Bulletin entitled: “Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”. Non-Binding Guidelines on the Use of Social Media by Judges issued by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and produced by the Global Judicial Integrity Network.

  1. Human Rights, the NHRC, and Ethics


(1.1) Lebanon is a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization and abides by its covenants and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government shall embody these principles in all fields and areas without exception.


(1.2) The National Human Rights Commission of Lebanon (NHRC), which includes the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), is an independent body established by Lebanese Law Number 62 dated 27 October 2016 to protect and promote human rights in Lebanon.


(1.3) The NHRC protects and promotes human rights in Lebanon ‘according to the standards laid down in the Lebanese Constitution and the UDHR and International Human Rights Conventions and Treaties and Lebanese laws consistent with these standards.


(1.4) Pursuant to Lebanese Law Number 62 (2016), the NHRC hereby sets forth its code of ethics to be observed by all members, employees, staff, representatives of associations, and any person cooperating and working with NHRC. It also includes NHRC and CPT commissioners and members of commissions and committees. All these persons shall be referred to in this code of ethics as ‘members and staff.’


(1.5) The highest standards of conduct, competence, and performance are expected of all NHRC members and staff to reflect NHRC’s ethical principles. All members and staff have a responsibility to contribute to the goals of NHRC and ensure that their conduct is consistent with the standards of conduct outlined in this Code of Ethics. 


(1.6) Responsibility for ethical behavior and professional conduct lies with all members and staff at all levels and must be taken seriously, as it forms the basis of the reputation of the NHRC and The CPT. Therefore, it is crucial that all members and staff are familiar with and understand this Code and utilize it as a guide for their conduct. 


(1.7) This Code of Ethics does not attempt to list all the ethical challenges NHRC and CPT members and staff may encounter. It serves as a guide for the conduct of members and staff with due consideration given to the possible implications of an action or decision. 


(1.8) NHRC and CPT members and staff must inform themselves of the provisions of this Code of Ethics. In particular, members and staff are reminded that their conduct may have consequences for which they are ultimately accountable. Their responsibility is to ensure that they comply with the principles outlined in this Code.


(1.9) NHRC and CPT members and staff shall take the time to reflect on the situation and the relevant provisions of this Code before deciding on a possible course of action.


  1. Ethical Principles and Commitments 


2.1 Oath of Office


The primary obligation of NHRC members is set out in the Oath of Office as follows: I swear by Almighty God to carry out my duties in the National Human Rights Commission with all integrity, faithfulness and independence and act, in all that I do, in a trustworthy manner and always seek rightfulness and protect and promote human rights.


2.2 Commitments of members and staff


The members and staff of the NHRC, including the CPT, shall:


(a) Comply and abide by human rights principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;


(b) Consider the interests of victims and witnesses at all times in such a way that respects their human rights and preserves their dignity;


(c) Uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity, meaning, in particular: probity, impartiality, equity, honesty, and good faith;


(d) Act in an independent capacity, and exercise their functions following their mandate, through a professional, impartial assessment of facts based on internationally recognized human rights standards, and free from any extraneous influence, incitement, pressure, threat or interference, either direct or indirect, on the part of any party, whether stakeholder or not, for any reason whatsoever, the notion of independence being linked to the status of such members and staff, and to their freedom to assess the human rights questions that they are called upon to examine under NHRC’s mandate;


(e) Exercise their functions per NHRC’s mandate and in compliance with Law No. 62 of 2016, and with this Code;


(f) Focus exclusively on the implementation of NHRC’s mandate, constantly keeping in mind the fundamental obligations of truthfulness, loyalty, and independence in NHRC’s mandate;


(g) Neither seek nor accept instructions from any government, individual, governmental, or non-governmental organization or pressure group whatsoever;


(h) Be aware of the importance of their duties and responsibilities, taking the particular nature of NHRC’s mandate into consideration and behaving in such a way as to maintain and reinforce trust;


(i) Maintain the highest standards of transparency in their financial and administrative systems, decision-making mechanisms, and NHRC’s finances; 


(j) Seek guidance from commissioners, managers, or supervisors; and


(k) Report, without delay, suspected wrongdoing.


2.3 Commitments of managers and supervisors


NHRC and CPT members, managers, or staff in supervisory positions play an important role in promoting a workplace culture that upholds NHRC’s ethical principles and ensures a safe and healthy work environment. 


They shall take seriously their obligations towards subordinate staff, including by not retaliating against staff who may have reported wrongdoing in good faith or collaborated with an authorized audit or investigation. 


NHRC and CPT members, managers, and supervisors shall lead by example, and shall: 


(a) Serve as models of integrity, and act following human rights standards; 


(b) Take responsibility for their actions and ensure that their team’s objectives are reached; 


(c) Promote and document fair and factual assessments of the performance of the persons under their supervision; 


(d) Make decisions based on fair and factual assessments, regardless of internal or external pressures; 


(e) Be familiar with and understand this Code of Ethics to provide guidance to and advise their staff on their rights, responsibilities, and obligations; 


(f) Encourage an ongoing dialogue surrounding ethical conduct issues and allowing members and staff to express their concerns and needs; 


(g) Encourage the reporting of instances of wrongdoing such as fraud, negligence, or disrespectful behavior, and immediately address misconduct once reported or observed; 


(h) Support staff members who raise an ethical concern and ensure that such staff receive protection against retaliation;


(i) Foster a healthy team atmosphere and environment based on mutual trust; 


(j) Encourage staff to further their understanding of ethical and professional conduct; and


(k) Care about the wellbeing of staff, and listen to staff effectively without prejudice.


2.4 Commitments of the NHRC, including the CPT


NHRC’s and CPT’s good name and reputation reflect the collective efforts to maintain an ethical and professional conduct. At the organizational level, to protect its name and reputation, NHRC, including CPT, shall be committed to: 


(a) Adhering and ensuring adherence to this Code of Ethics in its entirety;


(b) Setting an example at the most senior level through ethical behavior; 


(c) Recognizing the contribution of individual members and staff to the achievement of NHRC’s and CPT’s objectives;


(d) Publishing, promoting, and updating this Code of Ethics, and supporting its members and staff in understanding its applicability, their responsibilities, commitments and rights, and how to obtain support if needed;


(e) Making available and requiring that all existing NHRC and CPT members and staff shall undertake training courses on ethical conduct and briefing all the new NHRC and CPT members and staff during induction/orientation sessions;


(f) Ensuring that all NHRC and CPT collaborators are made aware of this Code of Ethics and their obligations, and are provided copies of this Code of Ethics; 


(g) Providing advice and guidance to individual staff on specific issues pertaining to the mandate of the NHRC and the CPT upon their request;


(h) Providing information to enable members and staff to understand the procedures to follow and expected conduct and response when reporting wrongdoing; 


(i) Responding promptly to alleged breaches of NHRC’s ethical principles; 


(j) Maintaining impartial mechanisms to resolve disputes;


(k) Ensuring that anyone who reports suspected wrongdoing in good faith is not subject to retaliation, and treating corroborated cases of dishonest allegations as misconduct; 


(l) Providing a fair opportunity to staff against whom an allegation is made to respond in an open and non-threatening environment; and 


(m) Taking appropriate administrative action, including disciplinary sanctions, in cases of corroborated allegations of misconduct.

2.5  Ethical Principles


2.5.1 No disrespect 


(1) Disrespectful behavior that lacks the minimum level of courtesy and dignity in interaction with others or amounts to inappropriate conduct, comments, or displays that insult, denigrate, disparage or humiliate someone or depreciate their value amounts to a breach of NHRC’s ethical principles. Such breach may lead to disciplinary sanctions. 


(2) Disrespect may also include general statements or attitudes regarding the diversity of human beings and their worth. It also includes disrespect for people’s work, NHRC as an organization, or NHRC’s mandate and objectives. 


2.5.2 No discrimination and no favoritism


(1) NHRC shall prohibit discrimination based on sex, gender, race, religion or belief, nationality, ethnic or social origin, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or other aspects of personal status. Discrimination includes actions carried out either directly or indirectly, based on distinctions or prejudice that have the purpose or effect of treating individuals or groups unfairly or unjustly. It may include a series of events or a one-time incident.


(2) NHRC members and staff are required to demonstrate respect for diversity. The ethical principles of NHRC prevail over their origins, beliefs, opinions, preferences, or habits at all times. Similarly, NHRC and CPT members and staff shall not favor certain groups over others based on a reflection of their personal status or inclinations, particularly in terms of recruitment or hiring of individuals to collaborate with NHRC.


2.5.3 No abuse of authority or power


(1) The abuse of authority or power is the improper use of an individual’s position of influence, power, or authority towards others. Such abuse is particularly serious when the alleged offender uses their influence, power, or authority to negatively influence the career or employment conditions (including, but not limited to, appointment, assignment, contract renewal, performance evaluation, or promotion) of other individuals. 


(2) Abuse of authority can include a one-time incident or a series of incidents. It may also consist of conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment, which includes, but is not limited to, the use of intimidation, threats, blackmail, or coercion. 


2.5.4 No harassment


(1) Harassment is unwanted behavior directed at another identified person, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for that person. It interferes with the recipient’s ability to carry out their functions and often creates an intimidating or hostile work environment. 


(2) Harassment may: 


(a) Involve a single incident, or continuous, pervasive treatment;

(b) Occur between a group and an individual;

(c) Take the form of words, gestures, or other actions that alarm, threaten, abuse, demean, intimidate, belittle, or cause personal humiliation, embarrassment, or emotional distress to another person;

(d) Take place face to face, or through written communications, email, phone, and supervision methods; and

(e) Take the form of bullying, characterized by the underlying perception of an imbalance of power, and by the repeated or habitual use of force, physical or emotional aggression, or coercion to intimidate or dominate others.


2.5.5 No sexual harassment, exploitation, or abuse


(1) Sexual harassment is a particularly severe form of harassment. Sexual harassment is understood as any unwelcome, unsolicited and unreciprocated, sexual advance, request for sexual favor, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature, or any other behavior of a sexual nature (including pornography, sexual remarks) that has or that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to offend, humiliate or intimidate another person.


(2) Sexual harassment frequently interferes with work. It may be made implicitly or explicitly a condition of employment or making decisions based on sexual advances being accepted or rejected. Sexual harassment can imply a series of incidents or a one-time incident. Sexual harassment may occur between persons of the other or same sex and may extend outside working hours and the workplace.


(3) Sexual exploitation means ‘any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. The term ’sexual abuse’ refers to the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. This definition includes sexual relations with a child.


(4) Sexual exploitation and abuse violate universally recognized international legal norms and standards, and the NHRC considers such acts as serious misconduct that may constitute grounds for disciplinary measures, including summary dismissal and criminal prosecution. 


(5) To further protect the most vulnerable populations, especially women and children, the following specific standards which reiterate existing general obligations under international and national Laws, regulations, and rules, are promulgated:

(a) Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse constitute acts of serious misconduct and are therefore grounds for disciplinary measures, including summary dismissal and criminal prosecution;

(b) Sexual activity with children (persons under 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defense;

(c) Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favors or other forms of humiliating, degrading, or exploitative behavior, is prohibited. It includes any exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries of assistance;

(d) Sexual relationships between NHRC and beneficiaries of assistance, since they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics, undermine the credibility and integrity of the work of NHRC and are strongly discouraged;

(e) Where NHRC members and staff develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual exploitation or sexual abuse by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not and whether or not within the NHRC system, they must report such concerns via established reporting mechanisms;

(f) NHRC members and staff are obliged to create and maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Managers at all levels have a particular responsibility to support and develop systems that maintain this environment.


(6) The standards set out above are not intended to be an exhaustive list. Other types of sexually exploitive or sexually abusive behavior may be grounds for administrative action or disciplinary measures, including summary dismissal, under the NHRC Regulations and Rules.


(7) NHRC Board shall appoint an official, at a sufficiently high level, to serve as a focal point for receiving reports on sexual exploitation and sexual abuse cases. Concerning Missions, the staff of the Mission and the local population shall be properly informed of the focal point’s existence and role and how to contact them. All reports of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse shall be handled confidentially to protect the rights of all involved. However, where necessary, such reports may be used for summary dismissal and criminal prosecution actions. 


(8) When entering into cooperative arrangements with non-NHRC entities or individuals, relevant NHRC officials shall inform those entities or individuals of NHRC’s code of ethics standards. They shall receive a written undertaking from those entities or individuals to accept these standards. The failure of those entities or individuals to take preventive measures against sexual exploitation or sexual abuse, investigate allegations thereof, or take corrective action when sexual exploitation or sexual abuse has occurred shall constitute grounds for termination of any cooperative arrangement with NHRC and or CPT.


2.5.6 Child protection

(1) According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a ‘child’ is defined as any person under eighteen years, irrespective of the actual age of majority in the country where the child is located or in their home country. 


(2) NHRC has a fundamental obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of children. In all decisions and actions concerning children, the child’s best interests shall be the primary consideration. This duty of care includes protecting children from intentional and unintentional harm.


2.5.7 Gender equity and equality


(1) NHRC is committed to gender equity and equality. Gender equity means fairness in treating persons of all genders according to their needs. It may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but considered necessary to enable equal participation of persons of all genders in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and professional opportunities. 


(2) Gender equality means that the different behaviors, aspirations, and needs of persons of all genders are considered, valued, and favored equally and that they are treated equally in respect of their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. 


2.5.8 Scientific conduct of research


NHRC, including CPT, is committed to research integrity and promotes high-quality research that is ethical, expert-reviewed, efficient, accessible, transparent, carefully monitored, and rigorously evaluated.


  1. Working Protocols


3.1 Diligence


The members and staff of NHRC shall:


(1) Always seek to establish the facts, based on objective, reliable information emanating from relevant, credible sources that they have duly cross-checked to the best extent possible;


(2) Take into account, in a comprehensive and timely manner, all information about NHRC’s mandate; and


(3) Evaluate all information in the light of internationally recognized human rights standards and international conventions to which Lebanon is a party.


3.2 Sources of information


In their information-gathering activities, the members and staff of NHRC shall:


(1) Be guided by the principles of discretion, transparency, impartiality, and even-handedness;


(2) Preserve the confidentiality of sources of testimonies if their disclosure could cause harm to individuals involved;


(3) Rely on objective and dependable facts based on evidentiary standards that are appropriate to the non-judicial character of the reports and conclusions they are called upon to formulate; and


(4) Allow local government representatives to comment on NHRC’s and CPT’s assessment, respond to the allegations made against the government, and annex the government’s written responses to reports.


3.3 Handling of complaints


To achieve effectiveness in the handling of complaints of human rights violations, members and staff of the NHRC shall establish a clear and transparent complaints procedure and shall conform with the following criteria:


(1) The complaint shall not be manifestly unfounded or politically motivated;


(2) The complaint shall contain a factual description of the alleged violations of human rights;


(3)The language in the complaint shall not be abusive; and


(4) The complaint shall be submitted by a person or a group of persons claiming to be victim(s) of violations, or by any person or group of persons, including non-governmental organizations, acting in good faith according to human rights principles, and free from politically motivated stands, who claim to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations substantiated by clear information.


3.4 Field visits


The members and staff of NHRC’s CPT shall have the full authority to access and visit all places of detention and related facilities in Lebanon without any exception to protect detainees against arbitrary detention, torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.


The NHRC’s CPT members and staff shall: 


(1) Cooperate with competent authorities and negotiate with them to enforce and improve laws and regulations related to detainees and places of detention;


(2) Carry out periodic or unannounced visits at any time to places of detention without prior notice and the need for any permission from any administrative, judicial or other authority;


(3) Conduct collective or individual interviews with detainees in private, away from any surveillance, and with the assistance of an interpreter if necessary;


(4) Meet any other person that might have relevant information or could provide assistance that the CPT members deem necessary, and have unrestricted access to confidential information as required by CPT’s work; 


(5) Not reveal any confidential information without the consent of the person concerned or the source;


(6) Receive complaints or requests for interviews, inspection, or medical examination;


(7) Ensure that their visits are conducted in line with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) standards and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT); and


(8) Have access upon their request, in consultation with the state representatives, to official security protection during any visit, without prejudice to the privacy and confidentiality that members and staff of NHRC, including the CPT, require to fulfill their duties.


3.5 Recommendations and conclusions


The members and staff of NHRC shall:


(1) While expressing their considered views, particularly in their public statements concerning allegations of human rights violations, also fairly indicate what responses were given by the concerned government;


(2) Ensure that their declarations on the human rights situation in Lebanon are at all times compatible with NHRC’s mandate, and the integrity, independence, and impartiality that the NHRC’s status requires, and which is likely to promote a constructive dialogue among stakeholders, as well as cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights; and


(3) Ensure that the concerned government authorities receive their conclusions and recommendations and adequate time to respond.


3.6 Fair and transparent procurement


(1) The overall guiding objective for all NHRC and CPT procurement is to obtain the best value for money, i.e., the most advantageous bid based on a combination of factors related to price, quality, timely delivery, environmental performance, compliance with social and labor norms. 


(2) To ensure that the best value for money is obtained, the process of soliciting offers and selecting a contractor shall:


(a) Encourage competition;

(b) Ensure impartial and comprehensive evaluation of proposals; and 

(c) Ensure selection of the most reasonable offer and expected to meet NHRC’s and CPT’s requirements best stated in the request for proposals or invitation.


3.7 Use of official time and office property


(1)  NHRC members and staff are responsible for ensuring that the resources of NHRC, including computers, telephone equipment, and vehicles, are used for official business. Members and staff shall devote their time during working hours to the official activities of NHRC.


(2) Any personal use of office equipment, particularly the Internet, e-mail, and telephone, shall be kept to a minimum and shall not conflict with the interests of NHRC. 


3.8 Accuracy of records 


(1)  NHRC members and staff shall record all activities and prepare accurate and complete records following established procedures.


(2) NHRC members and staff shall not inaccurately record time and date, provide false or intentionally misleading information, submit false or misleading claims, or falsify any official NHRC documents. Such conduct could result in disciplinary sanctions.


3.9 Use of information, publications, and media


(1) NHRC members and staff have a responsibility to protect the security of any confidential information provided to or generated by NHRC and CPT. To avoid any unauthorized disclosure, members and staff must exercise caution in handling confidential information.


(2) NHRC members and staff must not use information known to them because of their official duties to their advantage. Members and staff who become aware of other members’ and staff members’ personal information due to their functions must respect their privacy and handle personal data with care and discretion.


3.10 Intellectual property and publications


(1) All rights, including title, copyright, and patent rights, in any work produced or developed by NHRC members or staff as part of their official duties shall remain the property of NHRC.


(2) NHRC has the right to use such work in any manner it deems appropriate, including by choosing to publish or not to publish the work, to make changes to the work, or to use the work in a different way than originally intended. 


  1. Personal Conduct


The private lives of NHRC and CPT members and staff are their concern. However, there may be situations where their conduct and activities outside the workplace, even if unrelated to official duties, may reflect upon NHRC. NHRC members and staff shall accordingly be aware of the potential impact of their private behavior upon the image and interests of NHRC and their reputation and are urged to act in a manner that is consistent with NHRC’s ethical principles.


4.1 Respect for national laws


(1) NHRC members and staff are required to observe local laws at all times and to avoid any action that could be perceived as an abuse of the privileges and immunities conferred on NHRC and CPT members and staff. 


(2) More specifically, NHRC and CPT members and staff shall: 

(a) Meet their private legal obligations; 

(b) Pay particular attention to and comply with relevant laws and standards governing bank accounts, currency dealings, taxes, purchase and disposal of motor vehicles, traffic violations, import/export and employment of domestic employees; and

(c) Cooperate with local law enforcement authorities, including the payment of traffic fines promptly.


4.2 Violence in the workplace and drug and alcohol use


(1) NHRC strives to provide a safe work environment for all its members and staff and does not tolerate any level of violence or threat of violence in any form, whether committed on office premises or elsewhere. Any violence or threat of violence shall be cause for disciplinary action. 


(2) NHRC is a workplace that aims to be free from illegal drugs and alcohol. 


(3) NHRC members and staff are expected to exercise good judgment and not engage in any behavior that may adversely affect performance or may be harmful to them or colleagues. 

4.3 Personal relationships in the workplace


(1) NHRC recognizes that a personal or intimate relationship may exist or develop between two people employed by NHRC. The fact that a relative, spouse/significant other, or close friend is working at NHRC does not automatically mean a conflict of interest. 


(2) However, personal and intimate relationships between colleagues shall not interfere with work or create an environment where other colleagues might feel uncomfortable or professionally disadvantaged because of the relationship.


4.4 Domestic abuse and intimate partner violence


(1) Domestic abuse and violence are not private concerns. They are actions contrary to the NHRC’s ethical principles, adversely affect the image and interest of NHRC, and undermine its commitment to a respectful and healthy environment. 


(2) NHRC views domestic abuse and violence seriously and shall not tolerate such conduct by its members and staff.


(3) Domestic abuse and violence occurring between family or household members or between persons involved in a significant relationship include but is not limited to:

(a) Statements or actions that reasonably could be perceived as demonstrating an intent to cause physical or emotional harm to another (regardless of gender);

(b) Any act or threat of physical or sexual aggression that causes physical harm to another person;

(c) Sexual abuse;

(d) Intimidation or verbal harassment, emotional and verbal abuse, or threats; and 

(e) Destroying property.


4.5 Domestic workers


(1) When hiring private service providers, such as domestic workers, NHRC members and staff need to be aware that there may be a risk of a perception of abuse of power if they do not act with necessary caution. 


(2) NHRC members and staff are strongly encouraged to ensure that they hire all domestic workers through reputable local agencies. 


(3) NHRC members and staff must ensure that all the correct immigration paperwork is in place, that the worker is paid as per the local laws and at least the applicable minimum wage, and that all the necessary tax regulations, local and employee insurance requirements have been complied with. 


(4) NHRC members and staff must ensure that the working conditions concerning the employment of domestic workers are in line with human rights standards. 


(5) Any violence or abuse against domestic workers shall not be tolerated.


4.6 Conflict of interest


(1) A conflict of interest occurs when private interests interfere, or appear to interfere, with the ability of an NHRC member or staff member to act impartially, discharge their duties and functions, and regulate their conduct concerning the interests and mandate of NHRC.


(2) A conflict of interest does not mean that the individual involved is conflicted; the perception of a conflict of interest alone may create a negative image. Promptly disclosing and managing the conflict is essential to avoiding potentially damaging consequences. 


(3) NHRC members shall be dedicated full-time to their duties and shall not engage in any other work during their tenure.


(4) NHRC members may not hold incompatible offices such as head or member of a ministry, head or member of parliament, head or member of a public institution’s board of directors, head or member of a municipal council, a party leadership position, a member of syndicates’ councils, or a member of the entities nominating NHRC members.


(5) NHRC members may not run as candidates in parliamentary, municipal, or mayoral elections and shall not hold any political or administrative public position before the passage of two full years after the end of their tenure.

4.7 Relations with local government and political activity


(1) NHRC members and staff must not seek or obtain, under any circumstances, instructions or assistance from any government official or any other authority external to NHRC, particularly in an attempt to: 

(a) Interfere with the internal deliberations or policy direction of the NHRC and CPT;

(b) Change a favorable or unfavorable action or decision; or

(c) Obtain a promotion, benefit, or any other type of advantage.


(2) NHRC members and staff shall exercise caution and refrain from publicly expressing their opinions and beliefs, including religious beliefs, or engaging in political actions that might interfere with this Code of Ethics.


(3) NHRC members and staff shall refrain from glorifying violence, incitement of hate against specific groups of society such as ethnic, national, or religious minorities, or any segments of society at all times, including in their private capacity.


4.8 Relations with nongovernmental actors


(1) In addition to working with governmental entities, NHRC also engages non-governmental actors, i.e., non-governmental organizations, private sector entities, philanthropic foundations, and academic institutions. 


(2) In developing relationships with such nongovernmental actors, NHRC’s integrity, independence, credibility, and reputation must be ensured at all times.


4.9 Right of association


(1) NHRC members and staff shall have the right to associate themselves together in a formal organization to develop staff activities and make proposals and representations to NHRC concerning policy and conditions of service.


(2) NHRC members and staff shall not be active members with any political group or party locally, regionally, or internationally. If they were already part of a group or party before joining the NHRC, they shall freeze their membership during the length of their association with NHRC. 


4.10 Acceptance of gifts, decorations, and honors


(1) NHRC members and staff shall never solicit gifts or favors in connection with their official duties. Gifts that are offered shall not be accepted if such gifts would give the appearance of impropriety or bias or would appear to question the independence and reputation of NHRC.


(2) A symbolic gift may be accepted when it could cause embarrassment to refuse it, particularly where the gift is inexpensive and custom-made. 


4.11 Media relations and public statements


(1) NHRC members and staff shall bear in mind the need to ensure that their personal political opinions are without prejudice to the execution of their duties and base their conclusions and recommendations on objective assessments of human rights situations.


(2) NHRC staff members speaking to the media on subjects within their area of responsibility and expertise shall remember that they speak for NHRC and not as individuals, academic, or independent experts in their field. 


(3) Before providing any information to the Media, NHRC members or staff shall seek approval from their supervisor. 


4.12 Post-employment and post membership obligations


(1) Upon separating from membership or service at NHRC, a member of staff’s obligation to maintain discretion and confidentiality concerning official matters does not cease. In particular, members and staff shall not communicate to any person any information known by them because of their former position, nor shall they in any way use such information to their personal advantage.


(2) Former members and staff who make public statements about NHRC in the media, or publish as former NHRC members and staff, need to seek prior authorization from the NHRC. 


4.13 Emails and social media

(1) Emails and social media (including, for example, blogs and social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) shall be used to facilitate engagement and enable interactive communication and collaboration. 


(2) Inappropriate use of emailing and social media both privately and professionally exposes NHRC to risks, including but not limited to: 


(a) Spreading disinformation;

(b) Infringing on the copyrights of others; and

(c) Compromising NHRC’s reputation, independence, and credibility. 


(3) NHRC members and staff shall:


(a) Use of social media by NHRC members and staff shall maintain the moral authority, integrity, decorum, and dignity of their mandate.

(b) NHRC members and staff shall avoid expressing views or sharing personal information online that can potentially undermine judicial independence, integrity, propriety, impartiality, the right to a fair trial, or public confidence in NHRC. The same principle applies to NHRC members and staff regardless of whether or not they disclose their real names or status on social media platforms.

(c) NHRC members and staff shall not engage in exchanges over social media sites or messaging services with parties, their representatives, or the general public about cases before or likely to come before them for decision.

(d) NHRC members and staff shall be circumspect in tone and language and be professional and prudent regarding all interactions on all social media platforms. It may be helpful to consider in respect of each item of social media content (such as posts, comments on posts, status updates, photographs) its impact on NHRC dignity and mandate if disclosed to the general public. The same caution applies when reacting to social media content uploaded by others.

(e) NHRC members and staff shall consider whether any digital content antedating their ascension to the bench might damage public confidence in their impartiality or the impartiality of NHRC in general. NHRC members and staff shall follow the applicable rules regarding disclosing and removing such content. NHRC members and staff must consider removing the content if no rules are in place. It may be necessary to advise whether it would be correct to remove it and how to do so.

(f) NHRC members and staff shall be aware of the risks and propriety of sharing personal information on social media. They shall be particularly aware of the privacy and security risks of revealing their location or similar information directly or indirectly through posts on social media. Additionally, NHRC members and staff shall be aware that even if they are not active social media users, privacy and security risks may arise from using social media by their family members, close friends, NHRC personnel, and others.

(g) NHRC members and staff shall anticipate the potential impact that their emails or social media engagement could have on NHRC’s objectives; Irrespective of whether they use social media or not, NHRC members and staff shall be wary of how they behave in public because photos or recordings may be taken that can be spread quickly on social media platforms.

(h) NHRC members and staff shall refrain from causing offense or revealing confidential, unpublished, or embargoed information via email or social media; and refrain from misleading or deceiving NHRC colleagues, partners, and the wider public in any way.