Natisni vsebino

Address by the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia Dr Zdenka Čebašek −Travnik at a Reception on the occasion of the Day of Human Rights

09.12.2011 14:58
Category: Izjave za javnost, Delovanje in dogajanje

Dear guests,

The fifth year of my term of office as the Human Rights Ombudsman is running out. Six years — the duration of this term — is a long time, one that has given me the opportunity to meet members of three different national assemblies (the one that elected me, the one with whom I cooperated, in my capacity, most of the time, and the one that has just been elected) and three different governments. I sincerely congratulate the deputies who were elected on December 4 and wish the candidate for the prime minister's post every success in constituting a government as soon as possible. I expect that I will soon be able to meet with new ministers responsible for the areas that are most relevant to the protection of human rights. As a token of good cooperation, we will send the Ombudsman's 2009 and 2010 annual reports to all new deputies and members of the government.

Besides focusing on the content of the Ombudsman's annual report, which is also published in a summarised form in English, it is important to identify the situation related to the implementation of the Ombudsman's recommendations or to put it somewhat differently, to identify what the Ombudsman's influence is on the level of human rights and fundamental freedoms in our country. This influence could best be established on the basis of an in-depth analysis of the implementation of the Ombudsman's recommendations, in combination with the assessment of his/her public image, and a comparison with other European ombudsmen. However, as long as there is no such analysis, we can only rely on our own evaluation of this influence. In my view, it has been in compliance with the priorities set within my term of office. This includes children, the elderly, and the disabled and handicapped persons as those groups of people to whom I devote special attention. However, there are areas such as poverty, violence and environmental protection as the most outstanding issues that we have been dealing with. I am convinced that it was during my term of office that significant changes took place in these areas. Therefore, I am proud of all my co-workers who have helped me in fulfilling these tasks and who are also attending this event today.

Every month, we receive more than 200 new initiatives to be dealt with by us and submitted by individual people or groups who believe that their human rights or fundamental freedoms have been violated by an act or action of a state authority, a local community authority or a body exercising public powers. There was a peak of 280 new initiatives submitted in March this year. In addition to dealing with the initiatives, we perform quite a lot of fieldwork, mostly within the National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) under the Act Ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. To this end, we have been cooperating with representatives of non-governmental organisations and thus far prepared no less than three annual reports. In general, we have opened all our doors to civil society, that is to say, to associations and NGOs operating in various areas. We meet with them on a monthly basis, whereas the representatives working in the areas of environmental protection have for the past two years been taking part in the parallel project of cooperation, which is also yielding concrete results. Moreover, we have been implementing the 'Advocate – Voice of the Child' project for the fourth year in a row. Within its framework, more than 80 advocates were trained and over 140 children provided assistance. Every month, we also go to one of the Slovenian municipalities to perform our activities outside our headquarters.

The purpose of this day is to mark an important event: the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. Every year in December, the Slovenian Ombudsman takes part in various events, among which I would like to mention only some in this year: a round table entitled 'Corruption as Threat to the Right of People to Healthy Environment', a public debate addressing the topic of 'Voting Rights of Persons with Mental Development Disorders', a public forum on hate speech in online media, the project entitled 'Contents of Public Character in Sign Language', the presentation of awards for fine art works and texts on children within the United Nations Association, and others. Last week, we hosted an important international meeting of experts within the Joint European Union-Council of Europe Project, the European NPM Project, and yesterday, we held a press conference on the Slovenian NPM, with the presentation of new publications. The central expert event organised today was the Human Rights and the Media round table highlighting various aspects of the freedom of expression and presenting concrete questions related to this area.

Dear guests, allow me to conclude my address with the observation by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, who will conclude his term of office in 2012, but whose work in this area will leave an indelible impression, also on Slovenia.

He wrote:
The media play an enormously important role in the protection of human rights. They expose human rights violations and offer an arena for different voices to be heard in public discourse. However, the power of media can also be misused to the extent that the very functioning of democracy is threatened.

At our annual receptions, we always prepare short cultural programmes, which have in recent years been featuring artists use their talents to contribute to a greater understanding of diversity and the meaning of human rights.

The dancer Eva Pirnat will demonstrate that with determination and family support, anyone can make one's dreams come true, while Dorina, through her singing, will transfer us to other dimensions and places, among them to Prekmurje and my native town, Murska Sobota.

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