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Ombudsman: Human Rights Cannot Wait

11.12.2013 12:14
Category: work and news

Ljubljana, 10 December (STA) - Human rights must be respected without a delay, Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer said in her message on International Human Rights Day, illustrating just how hard it is for the disadvantaged to fight for their rights.

"Human rights and freedoms are like a protective shield," the human rights ombudsman stated in a message that she presented at a reception hosted for senior representatives of state institutions, civil society and diplomatic corps.

"Do we realise at all how inequality hurts, how difficult it is for people on the margin of society, the socially excluded, powerless, the insulted and humiliated to step into everyday world and fight for their rights," Nussdorfer wondered.

"Do we know how hard it is for individuals, especially without accessible legal aid, to understand their rights and duties from thousands of laws and bylaws and to take the right path to enforce them," the ombudsman said.

She underscored the importance of her office, noting that the need for a human rights ombudsman, established with a law 20 years ago, was proportionate to the problems in society, the grave financial and social crisis and a corrosion in the rule of law.

"Ombudsman is often the last resort for people who go from one institution to the other in the hope of a miraculous way out that would bring them an answer to the continuous question whether their rights have been violated."

Even though she often wonders herself whether the human rights ombudsman is a "toothless tiger", considering the many violations and many of her recommendations ignored, she said that the many letters of gratitude for cases positively solved prove how this institution is necessary.

Respecting human rights is certainly expensive, but disrespect is usually even costlier, the ombudsman said in a reference to the current economic turmoil, adding that rights must be respected without a delay and without citing the crisis as an excuse.

Nussdorfer also made her appeal against hate speech, noting that the words said or written could hurt feelings of individuals or social groups and caused division and rifts in society, and that it was often impossible to retract from what has been said.

The reception was also addressed by Karin Grom, who has born with Down syndrome and is currently on apprenticeship at the ombudsman's office. She said that she was happy with the work at the office, and appealed to Interior Minister Gregor Virant for support in her bid to set up an association of people with Down syndrome.

The minister, who had already discussed the idea with Grom and her parents, told the STA that he believed her plan was feasible. "We'are going to meet soon again to discuss the details and so that I can see how the government can help."

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