NPMs are usually made up of both members and staff. Members are appointed following a selection process or procedure (either in parliament, through a selection commission, or by governmental appointment). Depending on the NPM model, the number of members could vary between one (for example, ombuds institutions) and in some cases reaches more than a dozen members (as is the case among some new specialised institutions).
Often, the law establishing the NPM includes the composition of members and the professional experience and skills required. As stated in article 18.2 of the OPCAT “The States Parties shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the experts of the national preventive mechanism have the required capabilities and professional knowledge.” Staff are then recruited, reallocated or seconded by members, depending on the NPM model.
Members are appointed for a defined term of office (which may or may not be renewable), while staff are permanent and represent a guarantee of institutional sustainability and stability. On the other hand, Staff are recruited (depending on the NPM model), once the NPM is established, to support members in implementing the preventive mandate or for administrative purposes. In both cases, the NPM should have the authority to choose and employ its own staff based on requirements and criteria it alone determines. Sufficient human resources permit the NPM to be functionally independent.
There are some specificities related to the composition of NPMs and the distinction between the role of members and staff. For example, staff carry out the NPM’s mandate in cases where ombuds institutions are designated as NPMs. In contrast, in some new specialised institutions, the mandate is carried out primarily by the members. Some NPMs also appoint a secretary general from among their members, while for others this position is part of the secretariat (which may help to preserve institutional memory).
Members work either full-time or part-time, according to the law and/or the internal rules of the NPM and taking into consideration the scope of mandate. Both full time and part-time members should be paid adequately for their work. This should be considered while drafting the NPM’s budget.
Both members and staff are bound by the principles of confidentiality of personal information, do no harm, and non-discrimination. Therefore, they should have the same immunities against reprisals or any potential obstacles to the conduct of their preventive work.