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In just over a month, the Ombudsman has addressed more than 300 issues related to COVID-19

The Human Rights Ombudsman has been closely monitoring the coronavirus disease situation in Slovenian and abroad as well as the measures adopted by the state authorities to contain the epidemic and protect the most vulnerable groups of citizens. Many people have also contacted us via email and the toll-free number (080 15 30) raising questions and issues. From the declaration of the epidemic until the end of April 2020, we have addressed 324 cases and held 182 content-related telephone conversations with people seeking information related to the spread of COVID-19 or informing them of their rights. In this regard, we formulated a special report entitled The Human Rights Ombudsman and Addressing COVID-19-related Issues.
 
Most of the issues addressed and telephone calls were concerning social security (80 cases and 29 phone calls, 109 in total), equality before the law and protection against discrimination (64 cases and 23 phone calls, 87 in total), restriction of personal liberty (19 cases and 35 phone calls, 54 in total), protection of children’s rights (31 cases and 21 phone calls, 52 in total) and labour law (20 cases and 18 phone calls, 38 in total). Additionally, the professional colleagues of the Ombudsman have observed coronavirus-related questions in all 21 fields of the Ombudsman's work (more information available on the link). 

In order to facilitate public access to information, we have set up a special subpage within the Ombudsman's website, where current information on the measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic are published, solidarity towards the vulnerable groups (the elderly, children, disabled, unemployed, socially disadvantaged, women or members of various ethnic minorities) is promoted and where opinions of international organisations are published alerting and encouraging countries to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms while dealing with the pandemic.

Because the situation is rapidly changing and is being conditioned by the requirements of experts to contain the coronavirus disease, we have set up an Ombudsman's Review of the Measures taken to monitor the transparency of the adopted measures in Slovenia and oversee the decrees, ordinances and decisions implemented by various state bodies. Most ordinances and decrees have been adopted, published and entered into force over night, whereas the introduced regulations have also seen swift modifications, amendments and abrogations. That is also why we publish the most relevant pieces of legislation concerning the COVID-19 epidemic, Ombudsman's positions, press releases, etc., in one place.

Through our Human Rights Centre, we work together with various international institutions and associations gathering data on national measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ombudsman, Peter Svetina, held personal meetings and telephone conversations with the representatives of state and local authorities (ministers, mayors) on the ongoing events in particular fields of protection of human rights and freedoms that the authorities have to abide by while adopting and implementing measures. He also held several telephone and video conversations with his fellow ombudsmen from Austria, Greece, Luxembourg, Croatia and Serbia exchanging experiences and stances in times of the pandemic.

The Ombudsman also received several calls to institute proceedings before the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia to review the constitutionality of the regulations adopted in relation to the COVID-19 epidemic. The Ombudsman has yet not decided to institute such proceedings. However, he is extremely active in addressing his criticism towards the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, because he believes that the state bodies proposing or introducing a particular regulation should first be provided the opportunity to take a position on the irregularities by themselves and, where possible, to remedy these by themselves.
 
More information on our work from the declaration of the epidemic until the end of April 2020 is available in the following report: The Human Rights Ombudsman and Addressing COVID-19-related Issues.

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