What NHRIs do
Complaints handling and investigation
Manual - Undertaking effective investigations
Requirements for an effective investigations team
Identifying issues and deciding whether to investigate
Planning an investigation
Setting up the interview
Organising the interview
Interviewing individuals who fall into a special category
Six principles for effective interviewing
Collecting physical evidence
Visiting a scene and collecting evidence
Writing an effective investigation report
Mainstreaming gender in NHRI investigations
Conducting Virtual Investigations
Conducting investigative interviews virtually
Mendez Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations
Engage with the international human rights framework
How NHRIs work
Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA)
SCA Rules of Procedure
Statement of Compliance (SOC) Template
SCA Procedure for Challenge Before the Bureau
SCA Practice Note 1 - Deferrals
SCA Practice Note 4 - NHRIs in Transition
SCA Practice Note 2 - Special Reviews
SCA Practice Note 5 - Sources of information to assess the performance of NHRIs
SCA Practice Note 3 - Assessing the Performance of NHRIs
A practical guide to the work of the SCA
Gender disaggregated data
Mental Health for NHRI Staff
Human rights issues
Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)
Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)
Women Human Rights Defenders protection approaches
Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders
Establishing HRD focal point staff at NHRIs
Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Best practice and lessons learned
Report violations to the international human rights machinery on HRDs
NHRIs and the Protection of HRDs: Insights from Indonesia and Thailand
Secure management of information from HRDs
Monitoring the situation of HRDs: Case study from Kenya
NHRI reprisals as HRDs
Mongolia: Human Rights Defenders Law
The Situation Of Human Rights Defenders Working To Address Violence Based On Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity In Kenya
The Marrakech Declaration
The APF Regional Action Plan on Human Rights Defenders
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders 2019
Front Line Defenders 2020 Global Analysis
Operational Guidelines - Regional Action Plan on Human Rights Defenders (RAP)
NHRIs are HRDs
What is an Early Warning System (EWS) for HRDs?
Defining Human Rights Focal Points
Model law on Human Rights Defenders
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders 2016
Countering narratives against HRDs
UN declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)
Business and Human Rights (BHR)
Emergency measures and COVID 19 - guidance document
The human rights dimensions of COVID-19
COVID-19 and NHRIs study
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
Guiding principles on internal displacement
Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons
The Pinheiro Principles
Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC)
Understanding sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics
Being L, G and B in Asia Pacific
Being transgender in Asia Pacific
Being intersex in Asia Pacific
International and regional developments in human rights law
The Yogyakarta Principles
The APF’s response to the Yogyakarta Principles
What more NHRIs can do
COVID-19 & LBGTI people
The right to a healthy environment
Intergovernmental mechanisms project (IGM)
Fact Sheet Series - Engaging with IGMs on the right to a healthy environment and climate change
IGM Fact Sheet 1 - NHRIs: Trusted partners for change
IGM Fact Sheet 2 - Introducing the right to a healthy environment
IGM Fact Sheet 3 - ASEAN and human rights
IGM Fact Sheet 4 - The Pacific Islands Forum
IGM Fact Sheet 5 - Climate change and human rights
IGM Fact Sheet 6 - The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights
Introducing the Intergovernmental Mechanisms Project
IGM Project - Baseline Assessment
NHRI engagement with regional mechanisms
NHRIs and environmental rights course
The human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment - HRC resolution
The Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment
How are human rights impacted by climate change?
The Aarhus Convention
The UN Special Rapportuer on the Right to a Healthy Environment
The Human Rights to Healthy Environment in Southeast Asia: National Human Rights Institutions
Escazú Regional Agreement
Human rights and climate change
Compendium of actions to address climate change and protect human rights
GANHRI Statement - Climate Change: The role of National Human Rights Institutions
Addressing Climate Change – UN Special Procedures
NHRI COP26 Symposium
Practical Guidance for NHRIs on Climate Change
Climate change and Human Rights: Contributions from NHRIs
Climate mobility and displacement
NHRIs in Humanitarian action
International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
Humanitarian action definition and terms
Human Rights Based Approach to disaster management in New Zealand
CHR Philippines and Typhoon Yolanda
Integrating humanitarian action into general operations - Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
Gender considerations in humanitarian action
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
IASC Operational Guidelines on Protection of Persons in Natural Disasters
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
IASC Guidelines on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action
Vulernable groups in humanitarian emergencies
Humanitarian principles and standards
Updated by Faso Aishath
- NHRI investigators should visit scenes whenever possible to further their investigations
- Investigators should identify whether there may be more than one scene to visit
- Investigators should consider what documentary evidence and digital evidence may exist to support their investigation
A scene should be thought of in the broadest sense possible. It is any environment where something relevant to the investigation takes – or took – place.
Thinking about potential scenes is very important when the NHRI is undertaking an investigation into a systemic issue. For example, scene visits could involve visits to an immigration detention centre, a garment factory employing child labour or, if the NHRI is investigating sexual harassment in the military, an army base.
It is important to recognise that there may be more than one scene that should be visited as part of the investigation.
WHY ARE SCENES WORTH VISITING?
In many cases, the NHRI will not be the lead investigative agency responsible for processing a scene, particularly where criminal offences are alleged or apparent. However, it is useful for investigators to go to where something they are investigating happened, or is happening, because it:
- Helps put the event or issue in context
- Allows investigators to assess possible important physical factors, such as sightlines, lighting and so on
- May provide an opportunity to locate possible witnesses
- May make possible witnesses aware of the investigation, especially if the investigators work with local stakeholders, including the media, to publicise the visit
- Provides an opportunity to interview witnesses at the location where they were when the event took place
- Enables the investigator to assess whether all physical and digital evidence at the scene has been identified, secured and seized for possible forensic examination
- May reveal new sources of evidence that were previously overlooked or ignored
- May help assess the reliability of witnesses; for example, if the witness says they saw or heard something from a certain location the investigator may be able to determine if that was, in fact, possible.
It is usually worthwhile visiting the scene, even if the event being investigated happened a long time ago or another agency is responsible for any initial investigation. The investigator will get a sense of what happened that it is difficult to replicate from scene photographs or video.
The investigator should try to visit the scene at the same time and day of the week that the event happened, particularly if they are canvassing for witnesses. People often have routines that put them in the same place, at the same time.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS WHEN VISITING A SCENE
Investigator and witness safety is paramount and should be the top priority when deciding whether or not to visit a scene.
If they exist, take photographs and video of the scene at the time the event occurred for the purpose of making a comparison.
Investigators should look and listen very carefully when they are at a scene. They should consider how what they see and hear relates to what they know so far.
Investigators should be prepared to deal with any new evidence they find or are given, particularly physical evidence. It should be secured and processed, just like any other physical evidence.
Finally, investigators should make good notes and take video and photographs, as appropriate.
COLLECTING PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
Physical evidence is very important to certain human rights investigations, particularly when they intersect with criminal investigations. They can also be very useful in other investigations, such as those focused on issues involving economic, social and cultural rights.
For more information see article on collecting physical evidence.
COLLECTING DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
Documents provide the backbone of virtually all types of investigation, including human rights investigations. This includes both physical documents and electronic documents, such as emails, text messages and electronic files.
There are seven steps involved in obtaining and reviewing documents. Investigators should:
- Determine what documents exist or should exist
- Obtain those documents
- Review them
- Assess their authenticity
- Understand them
- Assess what weight to give them
- Look for any gaps.
COLLECTING DIGITAL EVIDENCE
The Internet is a hugely valuable resource for investigators. It can help uncover evidence – such as documents, photos, tweets and even potential witnesses – and let people know about an investigation.
Online searches should be included in an investigation plan. Investigators should follow some key principles when searching online, including social media:
- Be smart and focused when you search
- Search for information ethically
- Do not accept everything found on the Internet at face value
- Be aware of new tools and new ways to search for information online.
FIND OUT MORE
Chapters 21-24, Undertaking Effective Investigations: A Guide for National Human Rights Institutions (APF, revised 2018)