Natisni vsebino

1. Assessments, findings, opinions and proposals of the ombudsman

Annual Report 1996

ASSESSMENTS, FINDINGS, OPINIONS AND PROPOSALS OF THE OMBUDSMAN

In the subject of respect for human rights and legal certainty in our country, we would emphasise the following two findings:

  • the operation of the rule of law is unsatisfactory
  • no significant progress has been made regarding the shortcomings established in 1995

Legal certainty as a fundamental pillar of the rule of law is undermined by an incomplete and unstable legal order, the unreasonably long and inefficient procedures within the competent bodies, as well as the way in which these bodies function, which all too frequently does not conform with the principles of a state governed by the rule of law. Irregularities and shortcomings of this nature are causing serious difficulties for a considerable number of citizens and inhabitants of our country.

In our 1995 annual report we emphasised the five most serious problems concerning human rights: the excessive duration and ineffectiveness of numerous proceedings before state bodies, the incomplete legislation, the inadequate and complex possibilities for appeal against the actions of certain bodies, the social hardship of a considerable number of inhabitants of our country, and problems connected with Slovene independence.

There was no significant improvement in these key areas in 1996. Most of the problems remain; some are even getting worse. This is particularly the case as regards the length of proceedings at some of the courts and in certain administrative bodies. In many cases the right to have a decision made within a reasonable time is clearly being violated and the effective protection of rights is being rendered impossible.

Many of the proposed laws which are highly important for effective protection of rights were not adopted last year. We are still only half way down the road towards bringing our legislation into line with the arrangements laid down in the Constitution.

Five years after gaining independence we have yet to resolve the problems faced by many people to which independence gave rise. Some have even found themselves in a vicious circle from which, with the regulations that are currently in force, there is no escape.

The authorities will have to give priority and real application to overcoming these and other problems that make the life of the inhabitants of this country difficult and which could have an adverse impact on its reputation. In order to improve the situation we need a common effort to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, by improving the regulations and changing the practices of the state bodies and the way of thinking of the responsible officials. The fundamental measure of any action must be respect for human rights. And because one of the most important aspects of the rule of law is confidence in the law, the authorities must refrain from taking any decisions or measures which reduce the level of that confidence.

Thus in the initial part of the report of the ombudsman for 1996 we set out some of the general irregularities and shortcomings that we encounter in our work, and which have a particularly adverse effect on the position of the individual in his relationship with the state. In this relationship the individual is often powerless, and hence the number of people turning to the Human Rights Ombudsman for help is increasing. Some of the shortcomings, especially the gaps in the legislation and the unreasonable length of some of the procedures, are of such nature that they are even having an impact on the effectiveness of the work of the ombudsman. There are irregularities within the system that are paralysing the functioning of the rule of law.

Some specific problems are mentioned briefly to illustrate the irregularities we are drawing attention to in this chapter. In the following chapter of the report they are set out in greater detail. We have divided the irregularities into those connected with the legal order and those rooted in the inappropriate practices of the public bodies. 

1.1 Legal order

Incomplete legislation

The legislation currently in force in Slovenia does not conform fully with the Constitution or the ratified international legal acts, nor indeed does it correspond with the new social circumstances that have arisen. Problems frequently arise due to a lack of coordination between individual regulations, as well as legal loopholes. In such instances the individual finds himself in an extremely adverse position, since attempts are frequently made to close legal loopholes by analogy, to the detriment of the individual, through arbitrary decision-making or by simply avoiding making a decision. Some areas are not adequately regulated at all, i.e. in a way that would enable the regulations actually to be carried out.

The outdated legislation often does not provide a suitable basis for the work of the relevant state bodies. An example is the area of labour relations, where the legislation in force contains no provisions relating to numerous situations that are arising owing to the changed relationship between employees and employers.

In order to protect the rights of the individual and to improve legal certainty, for various reasons it is necessary to adopt new legislation or amend the laws regulating the following areas:

  • labour relations
  • the implementation of penal sanctions
  • the implementation of detention
  • dealing with people who have mental health problems
  • army officers' pensions
  • criminal procedure
  • civil, executive and non-contentious proceedings
  • general administrative procedure
  • administrative disputes and administrative courts
  • administrative offences
  • citizenship and foreigners
  • the police
  • the guarantee fund
  • the war compensation fund

For the newly adopted laws to achieve their aim, their formulation must be accompanied by a thorough review of the actual state of affairs, with quality regulations drawn up on this basis.

Owing to the new circumstances that have arisen, it is very important for the comprehensive regulation of certain areas that a number of bilateral agreements are adopted as soon as possible, particularly agreements on social security and citizenship, with other former Yugoslav countries.

Numerous implementational regulations, such as prison rules, need to be modernised and brought into line with the valid legal order.

In certain areas where these types of regulation are applied on the principle of analogy, original regulations will need to be adopted. Such a case is the decree on criteria for establishing the fulfilment of certain conditions for the acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Slovenia by naturalisation, which is also applied in procedures for the acquisition of a temporary or permanent residence permit, although clearly these last two cases concern a substantially different relationship between the individual and the state. Another such case are the regulations on the classification and examination of children, adolescents and young adults with disturbances in their physical and mental development, where they are used to establish entitlement to tax relief.

Inappropriate method of implementing new laws

The implementation of newly adopted laws and other regulations is being accompanied by vagueness, uncertainty and sometimes unlawful actions on the part of some public bodies. This has been particularly apparent with the implementation of the so-called war laws: decisions are issued too late, proven and suspected overpayments are inappropriately settled, and the entire implementation of certain newly recognised entitlements (such as the pensionable period) is uncertain. The law on the property and other material rights of foreigners raises another problem. The proposed law, in its transitional provisions, does not regulate the cases of those citizens of other former Yugoslav republics who were legally recognised as having the right to own property before independence, but did not actually acquire that property because, for one reason or another, the entry was not made in the land register. This is a problem that we have highlighted because by not regulating this specific issue in its transitional provisions the proposed law is not in accordance with the principle of confidence in the validity and permanence of law.

We would emphasise the importance of having transitional provisions in newly adopted laws that are feasible and sufficiently clear to all those affected. It is particularly important to have realistic time limits for the implementation of statutory provisions. At the same time it is also important that all the necessary executive regulations are envisaged and adopted in time, and that suitable instructions are issued to enable uniform practice in the implementation of laws throughout the country.

Supplementing regulations

There are numerous cases where a law or other regulation does not cover all the situations that actually arise. Such legal loopholes require urgent measures to be taken. One of the areas in which we have identified problems of this nature is in the implementation of the legislation on foreigners. The individual is caught in a vicious circle, while the authorities themselves are creating this unregulated situation.

We believe that it is the duty of parliament and the government, and especially of the relevant ministry, to close the legal loopholes with suitable additions to the laws.

Protecting confidence in the law

There are many people who do not believe that the state, its bodies and the law itself are capable of protecting their rights. In large part this lack of confidence stems from the length of time required for decision to be made in procedures for the protection of rights, which renders such protection entirely ineffective. Those affected believe that there is no protection of their rights.

Also contributing to a low level of confidence in the law are those adopted and proposed regulations which strongly encroach upon existing rights. Therefore when regulations are adopted special attention needs to be paid to verifying the suitability of the law with regard to its purpose and avoiding any unnecessary changes which might undermine confidence in the validity and permanence of law. In the case of legislative initiatives which are unconstitutional in substance, the responsible bodies must adjudicate in the shortest possible time. An example of such an initiative is the demand for the withdrawal of citizenship from people to whom it has already been granted. 

1.2 The workings of state bodies and public services

Lengthy and ineffective procedures

Ever since we began our work we have been drawing attention to the extreme duration of a great number of administrative and judicial procedures. In this chapter we describe the most blatant cases in individual areas. The time taken to resolve administrative procedures often represents a direct violation of clear, although not always realistic, statutory provisions. And at the same time, as with cases involving unreasonably long court procedures, they are a violation of the European Convention for Human Rights. There is a huge number of violations of this type.

In some cases there is a kind of cynicism involved on the part of the state, which in the tax procedure for instance violates the law as far as the time limit for deciding a complaint is concerned, while at the same time steadfastly demanding that citizens carry out their duties within the time limits that it sets.

In numerous cases a decision that has been made is not carried out and so the procedure does not provide the solution which the individual had expected. This is especially problematic if the individual has demanded and expected of the state that it use its procedures to remedy an unlawful situation.

Respect for the law

We find that state bodies often do not abide by the provisions of certain laws in their work. The most frequent violations are of statutory provisions on time limits for the execution of a specific procedure. For instance, the provisions of the law on the general administrative procedure are violated as far as the location and tax procedures and numerous procedures in the social area are concerned. Even the time limits specifically determined in certain laws, such as the one on denationalisation, are not respected. More worrying is the explicit failure to implement individual statutory provisions, such as the provisions on the securities of the development fund in the purchase of replacement housing under the housing law. It is no wonder that many people who are confronted with irregularities of this sort believe that the laws do not apply in this country, especially as there is no appropriate and effective judicial protection of rights at their disposal.

The executive branch should be much more active in all cases where it is not possible to consistently abide by the law because of unforeseen circumstances. It should apply measures aimed to bring about a lawful state of affairs as soon as possible. And if this is not objectively possible, then the appropriate solutions should be sought through an amendment to laws which cannot be carried out.

Abiding by the provisions on human rights in day-to-day practices

The Constitution stipulates that the direct exercise of human rights and basic freedoms shall be guaranteed directly by the Constitution. Laws must comply with the Constitution, but also with the generally accepted principles of international law and international agreements ratified by the National Assembly. Therefore there can be no invoking of the strict letter of the law if that would involve an interpretation that does not comply with the provisions of the Constitution and of international acts in the area of human rights. And it is especially important to abide by these types of provisions as well as the legal practice of international institutions concerned with the respect for such legal acts (the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights) in cases of legal loopholes and conflicts between regulations.

Human rights law must become the fundamental basis for day-to-day legal work. Invoking the Constitution, international legal acts and the judicial practice founded on them cannot be taken as a sign of weakness of argument. On the contrary, such provisions and decisions must have priority over the frequently inappropriate statutory provisions and become the basis for judging lawfulness.

Avoiding decision-making on merit

We find that in the administrative procedure the second-instance body, when it upholds an appeal, consistently returns the case to the first instance, even though it has the possibility of deciding the case on its merits. The supreme court acts in similar fashion in administrative disputes in cases when the first-instance body does not take its opinion into account. Even if the relevant body fails to take action, when appeals to have a matter resolved fall on deaf ears, there is no substitute decision by the second-instance body or the court.

We also encounter a substantial avoidance of administrative enforcement.

In all these cases the use of lawful possibilities would save the individual having to wait an excessive amount of time for the procedure to continue. And therefore the activities described are not to the benefit of the individual's legal certainty.

Attitudes towards parties in procedures

We often encounter behaviour on the part of public officials which reflects an inappropriate attitude towards the parties involved. The officials in a state body cannot treat individuals attempting to exercise their rights or defend their rightful interests in a specific procedure as an unnecessary disturbance, or as someone asking for charity, and with the success of the application dependent on them.

The procedures differ from one to another. Individuals make recourse to some procedures in order to acquire what is legally theirs, such as a personal identity card. But other cases involve considerably more complicated procedures, where the state body has to establish the actual state of affairs, on which the outcome of the procedure depends. But in no case is there any reason for officials to treat applicants in a degrading manner.

Non-acceptance of applications

In a number of cases we have discovered that officials in a state body have been unwilling to accept an application, at least in the form in which the individual has been able to prepare it. Actions of this sort have had extremely negative consequences for individuals, such as formal termination of their lawful residence in the country because the state body has not accepted an application for temporary residence. In some cases we have even found that a missed deadline has meant the loss of the possibility to acquire a certain right.

Providing information on the possibilities available

Assisting poorly-educated applicants in administrative procedures is a statutory obligation. But additionally, providing comprehensive and appropriate information is an essential element of the work of the state bodies if we wish to achieve healthy relations between the citizens and the state, embodied in the person of its officials. Sending applicants from door to door, failure to state in full what documents are required, unclear explanations of procedures, unrealistic and "flexible" time limits for resolving a matter, all of this apart from causing a feeling of reluctance and even anger on the part of the individual, and being an unnecessary waste of time and money, also creates a lack of trust in the state bodies and the state in general.

Establishing effective complaints procedures

Mistakes can be made in any work. What is important is that the individual has the opportunity to have the mistake rectified through appeal. Only in this way can he avoid being a powerless victim of someone who has consciously or unconsciously made a mistake. The possibility of appeal helps to limit arbitrary decision-making, and to encourage more thorough and higher quality work, and hence also to prevent all the people working in a given body from being stigmatised because of the poor work of a few individuals.

There are many areas where there is not yet any opportunity for appeal. And there are even more in which certain forms of appeal are actually envisaged but have been implemented in such a way that they cannot be effective. Here we are referring not merely to the formal legal remedies that are available in a specific procedure but also to the informal possibilities for appeal, which are sometimes even more important.

As an example: although in an appeals procedure it is the second-instance body that rules on acts issued by an administrative unit in an administrative procedure, it would nevertheless be right for it to be clearly known to whom those who think that the attitude showed towards them by officials was inappropriate should turn.

Explaining the possibilities for complaint

If the possibility for complaint is known only to an initiated few, it is the same as if it did not exist. Therefore it is necessary to make known the general possibilities for complaint, for instance due to incorrect behaviour, as well as to have a comprehensive presentation of the possibilities that the parties in a procedure have if they are unsatisfied with a decision.

For example, we have proposed to the Health Insurance Institute that in the waiting room of every service provider which falls within the public health network there should be a notification stating whom customers can turn to if they are dissatisfied with the service. It will also be necessary to provide much more information to the public concerning the complaints possibilities connected with the provision of health care itself. Although commendably precise, the handbook for patients at our largest hospital contains no detailed or useful instructions as far as complaints are concerned. And the provisions of school rules are not sufficiently elaborated as to give pupils and students a clear indication as to where to turn for help in the event of irregularities.

Also part of the area of explaining the possibilities for complaint is referral to the ombudsman whenever other possibilities are not available or have been exhausted.

Flexibility within the statutory framework

Even the most thorough legislator could not envisage all the situations that life may bring. Therefore in many procedures an individual may feel that the decision passed by a certain body is completely out of touch with the situation in which he finds himself and is totally unrealistic.

Certain laws allow for a measure of flexibility. This possibility should be made full use of in dealing with an individual's specific circumstances - but not merely through the intervention of the ombudsman.

Particularly complex situations often arise in the area of tax. The new regulations permit the individual circumstances of the taxpayer to be taken into account to a certain extent, which is something that should actually be used to resolve otherwise intractable cases. We have learned of highly unrealistic behaviour on the part of the tax authorities in their attitude towards an individual who wished to benefit from sales tax relief on the purchase of a car because he had more than three children. Because the individual concerned had sold his first car, the tax authorities refused to grant tax relief on the purchase of another car, although the individual had paid the difference in tax, including the prescribed interest, when he sold the previous car. And so, in fact, the individual did not take advantage of tax relief on the first car and has nevertheless met with resistance to it being granted on the second.

Reasonable and responsible behaviour in a procedure

We expect of the state that it will act reasonably in all procedures, even when it is one of the parties involved. However, we have discovered many cases in which the state fails to meet its obligations towards an individual, even when a legally-binding decision from the highest court in the land exists with respect to an identical case. As an example we could mention the many judicial procedures connected with interest on unpaid wages, or the judicial procedures resulting from the state failing to make redundancy payments in the amount already awarded by the courts, and so on. In so doing one branch of power is needlessly burdening another (i.e. the already overburdened judiciary), unnecessary inconvenience is caused to the person affected, and money is wasted.

Connection to previous acts

Also worth mentioning is that on a number of occasions the body involved in a procedure has not wanted to take into account one of its own previous acts. From the point of view of the rule of law this type of behaviour is unacceptable. Two examples connected with the acquisition of citizenship: in the first example, after a document had been submitted demonstrating that a person's previous citizenship had been renounced, it was demanded that renouncement of the second citizenship be submitted, with there being no guarantee that Slovenian citizenship would be granted if that renouncement was submitted. In the second case the applicant had been issued with a document certifying citizenship of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia in 1988, yet after independence he had to begin the procedure for acceptance as a Slovene citizen.

Failure to abide by legally-binding decisions

All legal entities and private individuals must abide by a legally-binding court decision. It would be expected that the authorities would act as an example to the citizens in this regard. Unfortunately, we have found that either the state bodies or the citizens are failing to fulfil voluntarily legally-binding decisions. In most cases, following our intervention, the obligations were fulfilled, but only after much procrastination. We have even come across a case in which a mayor has explicitly refused to carry out a legally-binding court order. It does not bode well for the rule of law if the state bodies and the local authorities do not abide by the decisions of the courts when they adjudicate between them and the citizens.

Failure to abide by the rulings of the constitutional court

In a state governed by the rule of law, failure on the part of the legislative and executive branches of power to abide by the rulings of the constitutional court cannot be permitted, for it undermines the foundations of the country's democratic system. Nevertheless, we have even encountered this type of irregularity, which affects a very wide circle of particularly endangered people, and sadly it is not the only example.

A special law to regulate the rights of workers whose employment is terminated on the basis of Article 51 of the Law on Compulsory Settlement, Bankruptcy and Liquidation has still not been adopted. Under a constitutional court ruling of 13 October 1994, such a law should have been passed within six months of that ruling.

Poor demarcation of powers

A good example of the incompleteness of the legal order in the country is the unclear demarcation of powers between the central government and the municipalities. This is a problem which can have serious consequences. And powers are not demarcated precisely enough with regard both to the issuing as well as the implementation of regulations. At the moment that lack of regulation is reflected above all in the vagueness over who supervises the implementation of decrees that were passed by the municipalities in their previous form but which have been taken over by the new municipalities.

There is also a lack of clear demarcation of powers between certain inspection bodies. From the individual citizen's point of view, what is particularly unacceptable is where several inspection bodies claim they have no competence and send the individual from one to the other. We would expect that this negative dispute as to competence would be resolved within the ministry or the government, and not loaded onto the shoulders of the individual.

OCENE, UGOTOVITVE, MNENJA IN PREDLOGI VARUHA

Glede spoštovanja človekovih pravic in pravne varnosti v naši državi posebej poudarjamo dve ugotovitvi:

  • delovanje pravne države ni zadovoljivo in
  • glede ugotovljenih pomanjkljivosti v letu 1996 ni bilo občutnega napredka.

Pravna varnost kot temeljna postavka pravne države je omajana zaradi nedodelanega in nestabilnega pravnega reda, nerazumno dolgotrajnih in neučinkovitih postopkov pristojnih organov ter zaradi načina dela organov, ki prepogosto ni skladen z načeli pravne države. Tovrstne nepravilnosti in pomanjkljivosti povzročajo resne težave znatnemu številu državljanov in prebivalcev naše države.

V letnem poročilu za leto 1995 smo posebej poudarili pet najresnejših problemov, povezanih s človekovimi pravicami:dolgotrajnost in neučinkovitost številnih postopkov pred državnimi organi, nedodelanost zakonodaje, skromne in nepregledne pritožbene možnosti zoper ravnanje nekaterih organov, socialno stisko znatnega števila prebivalcev naše države in probleme, povezane s slovensko osamosvojitvijo.

Na teh ključnih področjih v letu 1996 ni bilo znatnega izboljšanja. Večina problemov ostaja, nekateri pa se celo zaostrujejo. To velja  predvsem za dolgotrajnost postopkov na nekaterih sodiščih in pri nekaterih upravnih organih. V številnih primerih gre za očitno kršitev pravice do odločanja v razumnem roku in onemogočanje učinkovitega varstva pravic.

Lani ni bilo sprejetih precej zakonov, ki so zelo pomembni za učinkovito varstvo pravic. S prilagajanjem zakonodaje ureditvi, ki jo določa naša ustava, smo tako še vedno na pol poti.

Tudi pet let po osamosvojitvi niso razrešeni problemi, ki so za mnoge nastali ob tem. Nekateri so se znašli celo v začaranem krogu, iz katerega v okviru veljavnih predpisov ni izhoda.

Oblastni organi se bodo morali prednostno in z veliko zavzetosti lotiti premagovanja omenjenih in drugih problemov, ki otežujejo življenje prebivalcev te države in ki utegnejo slabo vplivati na njen ugled. Za izboljšanje razmer je potrebno skupno prizadevanje za krepitev demokracije in pravne države z izboljševanjem predpisov ter spreminjanjem prakse državnih organov in miselnosti odgovornih posameznikov. Pri tem mora biti upoštevanje človekovih pravic temeljno merilo za ravnanje. Ker je eden najpomembnejših vidikov pravne države zaupanje v pravo, se mora oblast vzdržati vseh odločitev in ukrepov, ki zmanjšujejo raven tega zaupanja.

Zato v začetnem delu poročila varuha za leto 1996 predstavljamo nekatere splošne nepravilnosti in pomanjkljivosti, ki jih srečujemo pri svojem delu in ki posebej slabo vplivajo na položaj posameznika v razmerju do države. V tem razmerju pa je posameznik pogosto nemočen, zato se tudi povečuje število tistih, ki se obračajo po pomoč k varuhu človekovih pravic. Nekaj teh pomanjkljivosti, zlasti nepopolnost zakonodaje in nerazumna dolgotrajnost nekaterih postopkov pa je takšne narave, da vplivajo tudi na učinkovitost dela varuha. Gre za sistemske nepravilnosti, ki hromijo delovanje pravne države.

Posamezni problemi, s katerimi ponazarjamo nepravilnosti, na katere opozarjamo v tem poglavju, so navedeni na najkrajši način. Podrobneje so predstavljeni v naslednjem poglavju poročila. Nepravilnosti smo razdelili na tiste, ki so povezane zlasti s pravnim redom, in one, ki koreninijo v neustrezni praksi organov. Posebej pa navajamo nekaj temeljnih načel, ki naj bi jih spoštovali oblastni organi, da bi se izboljšal položaj posameznika v razmerju do države.

1.1. Pravni red

Nepopolna zakonodaja

Veljavna zakonodaja v Sloveniji ni v celoti usklajena niti z ustavo in ratificiranimi mednarodnimi pravnimi akti niti z novo nastalimi družbenimi razmerami. Pogosto nastajajo tudi problemi zaradi medsebojne neusklajenosti posameznih predpisov ali pravnih praznin. V teh primerih je posameznik v zelo slabem položaju, saj se pravne praznine pogosto skušajo zapolniti z analogijami, ki gredo v njegovo škodo, z arbitrarnim odločanjem ali z izogibanjem odločitvi. Nekatera področja sploh niso ustrezno urejena, torej tako, da bi bilo mogoče predpise dejansko izvajati.

Zastarela zakonodaja pogosto ne daje ustrezne podlage za delo pristojnih državnih organov. Za primer navajamo področje delovnih razmerij, kjer veljavna zakonodaja ne predvideva številnih situacij, ki nastajajo ob spremenjenih razmerjih med delavci in delodajalci.

Iz različnih razlogov je zato zaradi varstva pravic posameznika in izboljšanja pravne varnosti treba na novo sprejeti ali pa spremeniti in dopolniti zlasti zakone, ki urejajo naslednja področja:

  • delovna razmerja
  • izvajanje kazenskih sankcij
  • izvajanje pripora
  • ravnanje z osebami, ki imajo težave z duševnim zdravjem
  • vojaške pokojnine
  • kazenski postopek
  • pravdni, izvršilni in nepravdni postopek
  • splošni upravni postopek
  • upravne spore in upravna sodišča
  • prekrške
  • državljanstvo in tujce
  • policijo
  • jamstveni sklad
  • sklad za poplačilo vojne odškodnine

Da bi na novo sprejeti zakoni dosegli svoj cilj, je treba ob njihovi pripravi temeljito ugotoviti dejansko stanje in na tej podlagi pripraviti kakovosten predpis.
Zaradi na novo nastalih razmer je za celovito ureditev nekaterih področij zelo pomembno tudi čimprejšnje sprejetje nekaterih meddržavnih sporazumov, zlasti sporazumov o socialni varnosti in državljanstvu z drugimi državami na ozemlju nekdanje Jugoslavije.

Potrebna je tudi posodobitev in uskladitev z veljavnim pravnim redom številnih podzakonskih predpisov. Za primer naj navedemo hišne rede v zaporih.

Na nekaterih področjih, kjer se tovrstni predpisi uporabljajo po načelu analogije, pa je treba sprejeti izvirne predpise za dano področje. Tak primer je uredba o merilih za ugotavljanje izpolnjevanja določenih pogojev za pridobitev državljanstva RS z naturalizacijo, ki se uporablja tudi v postopkih za pridobitev dovoljenja za začasno in stalno prebivanje, čeprav je očitno, da gre v slednjih dveh primerih za vsebinsko bistveno drugačna razmerja med posameznikom in državo. Drugi tak primer pa je pravilnik o razvrščanju in razvidu otrok, mladostnikov in mlajših polnoletnih oseb z motnjami v telesnem in duševnem razvoju, če se uporablja za uveljavljanje davčnih olajšav.

Neprimeren način uveljavljanja novih zakonov

Ob uveljavljanju na novo sprejetih zakonov in drugih predpisov prihaja do nejasnosti, negotovosti, včasih pa celo do nezakonitega ravnanja nekaterih organov. Posebej poudarjeno se je to pokazalo ob uveljavljanju tako imenovanih vojnih zakonov. Odločbe so izdane prepozno, neustrezno je poračunavanje izkazanih in domnevnih preplačil, negotovo je celovito uveljavljanje nekaterih na novo priznanih pravic (pokojninska doba). Drugačen problem se kaže v zvezi z zakonom o lastninski in drugih stvarnih pravicah tujcev. Predlog zakona v prehodnih določbah ne ureja primerov tistih državljanov drugih republik nekdanje SFRJ, ki so pred osamosvojitvijo pridobili veljaven pravni naslov za pridobitev lastninske pravice, te pa niso pridobili, ker iz objektivnih razlogov ni bila opravljena vknjižba v zemljiško knjigo. Na ta problem smo posebej opozorili, saj predlog zakona, ki v prehodnih določbah ne ureja tega specifičnega problema, ni v skladu z načelom zaupanja v veljavnost in trajnost zakona.

Poudarjamo pomen takšnih prehodnih določb na novo sprejetih zakonov, ki bodo dejansko izvedljive in dovolj jasne vsem, ki jih predpis zadeva. Posebej pomembni so realni roki za uveljavitev zakonskih določb. Hkrati pa je pomembno, da so predvideni in pravočasno sprejeti tudi vsi potrebni podzakonski akti in da je z ustreznimi navodili zagotovljena enotna praksa pri izvajanju zakonov na območju cele države.

Dopolnjevanje predpisov

Številni so primeri, ko zakon ali drug predpis ne zajema vseh situacij, ki dejansko nastanejo. Takšne pravne praznine terjajo hitro ukrepanje. Tovrstne probleme zasledimo med drugim pri izvajanju zakonodaje o tujcih. Posameznik se znajde v začaranem krogu, država pa sama ustvarja neurejene razmere.

Menimo, da je dolžnost zakonodajalca in vlade, zlasti pa pristojnega ministrstva, da zapolni pravne praznine z ustreznimi dopolnitvami zakonov.

Varstvo zaupanja v pravo

Veliko je ljudi, ki ne verjamejo, da so država, njeni organi in pravni red sposobni zavarovati njihove pravice. K temu nezaupanju pripomore zlasti dolgotrajnost odločanja v postopkih varstva pravic, ki je tolikšna, da postane to varstvo povsem neučinkovito. Prizadeti je mnenja, da varstva pravic ni.

K nizki stopnji zaupanja v pravo pa pripomorejo tudi sprejeti in predlagani predpisi, ki izrazito posegajo v obstoječe pravice. Zato velja pri sprejemanju predpisov posvetiti posebno pozornost preverjanju primernosti zakona glede na njegov namen in izogibanju vsem nepotrebnim spremembam, ki lahko omajajo zaupanje v veljavnost in trajnost zakona. V primeru zakonodajnih pobud, ki so po svoji vsebini neustavne, pa morajo pristojni organi o tem odločiti v najkrajšem času. Za primer tovrstne pobude naj navedemo zahtevo za odvzem že podeljenih državljanstev.

1.2. Delovanje državnih organov in javnih služb

Dolgotrajni in neučinkoviti postopki

Na dolgotrajnost zelo številnih upravnih in sodnih postopkov opozarjamo od samega začetka našega dela. Po posameznih področjih v naslednjem poglavju opisujemo najbolj kričeče primere. Dolgotrajnost upravnih postopkov pogosto pomeni neposredno kršitev jasnih, čeprav nevedno realnih, zakonskih določb. Hkrati pa gre tako kot v primerih nerazumne dolgotrajnosti sodnih postopkov za kršitev evropske konvencije o človekovih pravicah. Število kršitev te vrste je izredno veliko.

V nekaterih primerih prihaja do svojevrstnega cinizma države, ki naprimer v davčnem postopku krši zakon glede roka za odločitev o pritožbi, hkrati pa od državljanov dosledno terja izvršitev obveznosti v rokih, ki jih postavi.

V številnih postopkih ne pride do izvršitve izdane odločbe, zato postopek ne prinese rešitve, ki jo je posameznik pričakoval. To je posebej problematično, če je posameznik zahteval in pričakoval od države, da bo s svojimi postopki odpravila nezakonito stanje.

Spoštovanje zakonov

Ugotavljamo, da državni organi pri svojem delu pogosto ne spoštujejo določb nekaterih zakonov. Najpogostejše so kršitve zakonskih določil o rokih za izvedbo posameznega postopka. Tako se kršijo določila zakona o splošnem upravnem postopku na primer pri lokacijskih, davčnih in številnih postopkih s socialnega področja. Ne spoštujejo pa se niti roki, ki so v posameznih zakonih posebej določeni, na primer pri denacionalizaciji. Še večjo skrb pa zbuja izrecno neizvajanje posameznih zakonskih določb, na primer določb o vrednostnih papirjih sklada za razvoj pri nakupu nadomestnega stanovanja po stanovanjskem zakonu. Ni presenetljivo mnenje številnih posameznikov, ki se srečajo s tovrstnimi nepravilnostmi, da v tej državi zakoni ne veljajo, zlasti ker ni na voljo ustrezno učinkovitega sodnega varstva pravic.

Izvršilna oblast bi morala biti veliko bolj dejavna ob vsakem primeru, ko zaradi nepredvidenih okoliščin ni mogoče dosledno spoštovati zakona. Njeni ukrepi bi morali težiti k čimprejšnji vzpostavitvi zakonitega stanja. Če to objektivno ne bi bilo mogoče, pa bi veljalo najti ustrezne rešitve s spremembo zakonov, ki jih ni mogoče izvajati.

Upoštevanje določb o človekovih pravicah v vsakodnevni praksi

Ustava določa, da se človekove pravice in temeljne svoboščine uresničujejo neposredno na podlagi ustave. Zakoni morajo biti v skladu z ustavo, pa tudi s splošno veljavnimi načeli mednarodnega prava in veljavnimi mednarodnimi pogodbami, ki jih je ratificiral državni zbor. Zato ni dopustno kakršnokoli sklicevanje na togo črko zakona, če takšna razlaga ni v skladu z določili ustave in mednarodnih aktov s področja človekovih pravic. Še posebej pa bi veljalo tovrstna določila in tudi pravno prakso mednarodnih institucij, ki skrbijo za spoštovanje omenjenih pravnih aktov (evropska komisija in evropsko sodišče za človekove pravice), upoštevati v primerih pravnih praznin in nasprotij med predpisi.

Pravo človekovih pravic mora postati neogibna podlaga vsakodnevnega pravnega dela. Sklicevanja na ustavo, mednarodne pravne akte in na njih utemeljeno sodno prakso ni dopustno dojemati kot znak šibkosti argumentov. Nasprotno, takšna določila in odločitve morajo imeti prednost pred pogosto neustreznimi zakonskimi določbami in postati temelj za presojanje zakonitosti.

Izogibanje meritornemu odločanju

Ugotavljamo, da v upravnem postopku drugostopni organ ob ugoditvi pritožbi zadeve dosledno vrača prvi stopnji, čeprav ima možnost, da odloči meritorno. Podobno ravna vrhovno sodišče v upravnih sporih vprimerih, ko organ prve stopnje ne upošteva njihovega mnenja. Tudi ob molku organa, ko so pozivi k rešitvi zadeve neuspešni, ne pride do nadomestne odločitve drugostopnega organa oziroma sodišča.

Ugotavljamo pa tudi izrazito izogibanje upravnim izvršbam.

V vseh navedenih primerih gre za to, da bi bilo z uporabo zakonite možnosti posamezniku prihranjeno dolgotrajno čakanje na nadaljevanje postopka. Zato opisano ravnanje ni v korist njegove pravne varnosti.

Odnos do strank v postopkih

Pogosto opažamo takšno ravnanje državnih uslužbencev, ki kaže na neprimeren odnos do strank. Stranke, ki si prizadeva s posameznim postopkom uveljaviti svojo pravico ali upravičen interes, uslužbenci državnega organa ne smejo obravnavati kot nepotrebno motnjo ali kot nekoga, ki prosi miloščino, in je zato samo od njih odvisno, ali bo uspel ali ne.

Postopki so si med seboj različni. V nekaterih posameznik pridezato, da dobi tisto, kar mu po zakonu pripada, na primer osebno izkaznico. V nekaterih primerih pa gre za bistveno bolj zapletene postopke, ko državni organ ugotavlja dejansko stanje in je od tega odvisen izid postopka. V nobenem primeru pa ni razloga, da bi se uradniki do strank obnašali ponižujoče.

Nesprejemanje vlog

V nekaterih primerih smo ugotovili, da državni organ oziroma njegovi uslužbenci niso hoteli sprejeti vloge, vsaj ne v takem stanju, kot jo je posameznik lahko pripravil. Zaradi takšnega ravnanja je posameznik občutil izrazito negativne posledice, na primer formalno prekinitev zakonitega bivanja v državi, če državni organ ni sprejel vloge za začasno bivanje. V nekaterih primerih pa ugotavljamo celo, da je bila zaradi zamujenega roka izgubljena možnost za pridobitev določene pravice.

Obveščanje strank o možnostih

Pomoč neuki stranki je v upravnih postopkih zakonska obveznost. Hkrati pa je celovito in ustrezno obveščanje nujna sestavina dela državnih organov, če želimo zdrav odnos med državljanom in državo v osebi njenih uradnikov. Pošiljanje od vrat do vrat, nepopolno navajanje potrebnih dokumentov, nejasna pojasnila o postopkih, nerealne in premične napovedi rokov za rešitev zadeve, vse to pri posamezniku ne povzroča le nejevolje, celo jeze, in nepotrebnega zapravljanja časa in denarja, marveč tudi nezaupanje v državne organe in državo nasploh.

Vzpostavljanje učinkovitih pritožbenih poti

Pri vsakem delu lahko pride do napak, pomembno pa je, da ima posameznik možnost s pritožbo doseči odpravo napake. Le tako ne bo nemočna žrtev nekoga, ki je zavedno ali nezavedno povzročil napako. Pritožbene možnosti pripomorejo k omejevanju samovolje, k temeljitejšemu in kakovostnejšemu delu in tako tudi k temu, da zaradi slabega dela redkih posameznikov niso ožigosani kar vsi, ki delajo vnekem organu.

Veliko je še področij, kjer pritožbenih možnosti ni. Še več pa je  takih, kjer so določene oblike pritožb sicer predvidene, vendar zastavljene tako, da ne morejo biti učinkovite. Pri tem seveda ne mislimo le na formalna pravna sredstva, ki so na voljo v posameznem postopku, marveč tudi na neformalne pritožbene možnosti, ki so včasih celo pomembnejše.

Samo za primer: čeprav o aktih, ki jih v upravnem postopku izda upravna enota, v pritožbenem postopku odloča drugostopenjski organ, bi bilo vseeno prav, da bi se jasno vedelo, kam in kako naj se obrne tisti, ki misli, da že sam odnos uslužbencev do njega ni bil primeren.

Seznanjanje s pritožbenimi možnostmi

Če pritožbeno možnost poznajo le posvečeni, je enako, kot da je nebi bilo. Zato je pomembno tako seznanjanje s splošnimi pritožbenimi možnostmi, na primer zaradi nepravilnega ravnanja, kot tudi celovita predstavitev možnosti, ki jih ima stranka v postopku, če ni zadovoljna z odločitvijo.

Zavodu za zdravstveno zavarovanje smo na primer predlagali, najdoseže, da bodo v vsaki čakalnici izvajalca storitev, ki sodi v javnozdravstveno mrežo, tudi obvestila, kam se lahko obrne zavarovanec, ki ne bo zadovoljen s storitvami. Veliko bolj bo treba javnost seznaniti tudi s pritožbenimi možnostmi v zvezi s samo zdravstveno dejavnostjo. Sicer hvalevredno natančno oblikovan priročnik za paciente naše največje bolnišnice glede pritožb ne vsebuje natančnih in uporabnih napotkov. Tudi določila šolskih pravil niso toliko razdelana, da bi učenci in dijaki ob njihovi pomoči jasno vedeli, kam naj se obrnejo ob nepravilnostih.

Seveda pa v okvir seznanitve z možnostmi za pritožbo spada tudi napotilo na varuha, kadar ni drugih možnosti ali so že izčrpane.

Fleksibilnost v okviru zakonitih možnosti

Še tako domiseln zakonodajalec ne bi mogel predvideti vseh situacij, ki jih prinaša življenje. Zato se v številnih postopkih dogaja, da posameznik ocenjuje odločitev organa kot povsem neskladno s položajem, v katerem se je znašel, in kot povsem neživljenjsko.

Nekateri zakoni omogočajo tudi nekaj prilagodljivosti. Ob obravnavanju posameznikovih posebnih okoliščin velja te možnosti v čimvečji meri izkoristiti - pa ne le po posredovanju varuha.

Posebej zapletene situacije pogosto nastanejo na davčnem področju. Novi predpisi dopuščajo nekaj upoštevanja individualnih okoliščin zavezanca, kar velja tudi dejansko uporabljati za razrešitev sicer nerešljivih primerov. Zelo neživljenjsko ravnanje davčnih organov smo zasledili v odnosu do pobudnika, ki je uveljavljal olajšavo pri prometnem davku ob nakupu osebnega avtomobila, ker ima več kot tri otroke. Ker je avto prodal, mu davčni organ ob nakupu drugega avta te olajšave ni priznal, čeprav je ob prodaji prejšnjega poravnal razliko v davku s predpisanimi obrestmi. Tako dejansko pri prvem avtu olajšave ni izkoristil, pa je kljub temu naletel na odpor, da bi mu jo priznali pri drugem.

Razumno in odgovorno obnašanje v postopkih

Od države pričakujemo, da bo v vseh postopkih ravnala razumno, tudi kadar je sama stranka v njih. Opažamo pa kar številne primere, ko država ne izpolni obveznosti do posameznika celo tedaj, ko obstaja že pravnomočna odločitev najvišjega sodišča v državi glede povsem identičnega primera. Za primer naj navedemo številne sodne postopke v  zvezi z obrestmi na neizplačane plače, pa sodne postopke, ker država neprizna odpravnin v višini, kakršno so sodišča že prisodila, in podobno. S tem en del oblasti brez potrebe obremenjuje drugega - že tako preobremenjeno sodno vejo, povzročajo se odvečne nevšečnosti prizadetim posameznikom, hkrati pa gre za nepotrebno trošenje sredstev.

Vezanost na prejšnje lastne akte

Omembe vredno je tudi nekajkrat opaženo ravnanje organa, ki v postopku noče upoštevati svojega predhodnega akta. Z vidika pravne  države je takšno ravnanje nesprejemljivo. Navajamo dva primera v zvezi  s pridobivanjem državljanstva. V prvem je bilo po predložitvi dokumenta o odpustu iz dosedanjega državljanstva zahtevano, da predloži še odpust iz drugega državljanstva, o katerem pa v zagotovilu, da bo sprejet v državljanstvo, če predloži odpust, ni bilo govora. V drugem primeru pa je bilo pobudniku leta 1988 izdano potrdilo o državljanstvu SRS, po osamosvojitvi pa je kljub temu moral začeti postopek za sprejem v slovensko državljanstvo.

Nespoštovanje pravnomočnih odločb

Pravnomočno sodno odločbo mora spoštovati vsaka fizična in pravna oseba. Pričakovali bi, da bodo oblastni organi za zgled državljanom. Žal pa pogosto ugotavljamo, da bodisi državni organi bodisi občine ne izpolnijo prostovoljno pravnomočnih odločb. V večini primerov so bile po našem posredovanju obveznosti izpolnjene, vendar po dolgem zavlačevanju. Naleteli pa smo celo na primer, ko župan izpolnitev pravnomočne sodne odločbe izrecno zavrača. Slabo se piše pravni državi, če državni organi in organi lokalne samouprave ne bodo upoštevali odločitev sodišč, kadar razsojajo med njimi in državljani!

Nespoštovanje odločb ustavnega sodišča

Nespoštovanje odločb ustavnega sodišča s strani zakonodajne in izvršilne veje oblasti je v pravni državi nedopustno in ispodkopava temelje demokratične ureditve države. Kljub temu smo opazili tudi tovrstno nepravilnost, ki prizadeva zelo širok krog posebej ogroženih ljudi, ki pa žal ni edini primer.

Še vedno namreč ni bil sprejet poseben zakon, s katerim bi bile urejene pravice delavcev, ki jim preneha delovno razmerje na podlagi 51. člena zakona o prisilni poravnavi, stečaju in likvidaciji. Po odločbi ustavnega sodišča z dne 13. oktobra 1994 bi tak zakon moral biti sprejet v šestih mesecih po objavi odločbe.

Nerazmejene pristojnosti

Poseben primer nedodelanosti pravnega reda v državi je nejasna razmejitev pristojnosti med državo in občino. Gre za problem, ki lahko povzroči resne posledice. Pristojnosti niso dovolj natančno razmejene niti glede izdajanja niti glede izvajanja predpisov. Za zdaj se ta neurejenost kaže predvsem v nejasnosti o tem, kdo nadzoruje izvajanje odlokov, ki so jih sprejele še občine v prejšnji obliki, pa so jih nove občine privzele.

Pristojnosti pa niso jasno razmejene niti med nekaterimi inšpekcijami. S stališča državljana je še posebej nesprejemljivo, da se več inšpekcij proglasi za nepristojne, pri tem pa ga usmerjajo druga na drugo. Pričakovati bi bilo, da se tak negativni kompetenčni spor razrešuje znotraj ministrstva ali vlade, ne pa na plečih posameznika.

1.3. Načela za izboljšanje odnosa med državo in državljanom

Izhajajoč iz izkušenj, zbranih pri našem delu, in vsebine problemov, ki jih imajo posamezniki z državnimi in drugimi organi, menimo, da odnosi med posameznikom, ki se obrača na organ, ter pristojnimi funkcionarji in uradniki niso takšni, kot bi lahko bili. Pri ocenjevanju teh odnosov je seveda treba izhajati iz načela, da je država zaradi državljanov in ne narobe.

Navajamo nekaj načel, ki so bistvena za izboljšanje odnosa med posameznikom in - posplošeno rečeno - državo. Nekatera od njih sopomembna predvsem za praktično ravnanje organov in njihovih uslužbencev, druga pa velja upoštevati pri pripravi postopkovnih in organizacijskih predpisov. Če se zdi katero od teh načel ali celo večina njih sama po sebi razumljiva, pa žal to ne pomeni, da se upoštevajo sama od sebe. Želimo poudariti odgovornost predstojnikov vseh državnih organov, da v okviru organiziranja in usmerjanja dela vorganu, ki mu načelujejo, zagotavljajo tudi upoštevanje tovrstnih načel. Prav bi bilo, da se za posamezna področja oblikujejo tudi zavezujoča pravila ravnanja, ki bodo med drugim služila kot osnova zapresojo korektnosti ravnanja uslužbencev v spornih primerih.

Preglednost in razumljivost postopkov

  • pojasniti vsako odločitev, ki zadeva posameznika, in razloge zanjo na način, ki ga posameznik razume
  • prepričati se, da je posameznik-stranka razumel informacijo
  • zagotoviti, da bo vsakdo vedel, kakšne so njegove pravice, možnosti in pravna sredstva,vključno z neformalnimi oblikami varstva pravic
  • pri načrtovanju, izvajanju in spreminjanju projektov, ki jih vodijo oblastni organi, se je treba posvetovati z ljudmi, ki jih zadevajo projekti
  • zagotavljati čim večjo javnost dela oblastnih organov, tajnost naj bo izjema
  • zagotoviti javnosti pravočasne, ustrezne in dostopne informacije
  • vsa obvestila in pojasnila javnosti naj bodo jasna in preprosto razumljiva

Dostopnost

  • organi, ki poslujejo s strankami, morajo imeti sprejemno in informacijsko službo, ki zmore spoštljiv odnos do vsakogar in ki posebej upošteva vse težave starejših in prizadetih oseb
  • omogočiti informacije po telefonu
  • način poslovanja s strankami in prostore prilagoditi tako, da je spoštovana zasebnost
  • zagotoviti, da so uradi brez težav dostopni ljudem s telesno okvaro
  • uradne ure naj se prilagajajo potrebam ljudi
  • omogočati urejanje več zadev na enem mestu s poenostavljanjem in združevanjem postopkov

Zakonitost in razumnost odločitev

  • dosledno spoštovati zakone in druge predpise
  • vsako odločitev preverjati tudi z vidika spoštovanja človekovih pravic in temeljnih svoboščin
  • nedodelanost in nepopolnost predpisov ne sme biti uporabljena v škodo posameznika
  • pri odločanju po prosti presoji opreti odločitev na objektivno preverljiva merila in dejstva
  • odločitve naj ne bodo le skladne s predpisi, marveč tudi razumne, poštene in ustrezne
  • preprečiti skrivanje za ozko interpretacijo zakona ali drugega predpisa

Upoštevanje pravic posameznika

  • odločitev ne sme biti sprejeta, če posameznik ni imel možnosti, da pojasni svoje videnje in da koristna pojasnila
  • ob sprejemu vloge povprašati stranko o vseh manjkajočih dokumentih in informacijah, da ne bi bila zaradi tega vloga zavržena
  • pomagati stranki, da odda popolno vlogo, da bi lahko odločba temeljila na vseh upoštevanja vrednih dejstvih
  • pri odločanju se izogibati vsakršne pristranskosti in uporabe nepravnih sredstev
  • preprečiti vsakršno razlikovanje

V službi ljudi

  • organizacijo in število zaposlenih prilagajati spremenljivim potrebam
  • ugotavljati potrebe in pričakovanja ljudi
  • zagotavljati pravno pomoč neukim strankam v ustreznem obsegu in na razumljiv način
  • usmeritev za spremembe naj bodo potrebe ljudi in ne uradnikov
  • ne zahtevati od strank listin, ki jih organ ima ali lahko pridobi
  • odpraviti vse nepotrebne postopke, formalnosti in obrazce

Spoštovanje človekovega dostojanstva

  • ne delati z ljudmi kot s številkami; poskušati odkriti njihove posebnosti in težave
  • ravnanje z ljudmi naj bo človeško in osebno
  • če posameznik uveljavlja svojo pravico do nekega prejemka ali storitve, ga ni dopustno obravnavati, kot da bi si prizadeval za privilegij; uveljavlja zgolj pravico, ki mu pripada
  • noben javni uslužbenec naj nikomur ne stori ničesar, kar ne bi želel, da se zgodi njemu
  • ne pošiljati stranke od vrat do vrat, če mu je s poizvedbo pri pristojnih mogoče
  • posredovati potrebno pojasnilo

Ukrepi za odgovorno ravnanje z ljudmi

  • vzpostavljati pritožbene možnosti, ki naj bodo znane in dostopne in kolikor se da ločene od služb, na katere se nanašajo pritožbe
  • vzpostaviti in uporabljati poravnalne mehanizme, kjer je mogoče
  • vse obljube, dane strankam, je treba spoštovati
  • nedopustno je izogibanje odločitvam in odgovornosti z izgovarjanjem na nadrejene ali na druge službe
  • vse postopke končati v razumnem času
  • nenehno spremljati in poskušati skrajšati čakanje
  • ugotavljati prave vzroke za vsako napako ali malomarnost
  • nezadovoljstva strank ni dopustno razlagati kot goli kriticizem; služi naj kot spodbuda za izboljšave
  • s strankami ravnati spoštljivo in ceniti dobro delo državnih uslužbencev.
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