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Slovenia, Varuh človekovih pravic

15.06.2000 18:34
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WORK

On March 21, 2000 the National Assembly of the Republic of Sloveniadiscussed the Ombudsmans Annual Report for 1998. After the debate Mr.Bizjak stated that it has been the best and most comprehensive debateon his Annual Reports so far. At the end of the debate the NationalAssembly passed 17 resolutions.

Resolutions of the National Assembly passed at the debate on the Ombudsman's Annual Report for 1998

1. The National Assembly has familiarised itself with the fourth regular annual report of the Human Rights Ombudsman for 1998.

2. The National Assembly supports the Human Rights Ombudsman (theOmbudsman), who through decisive action and functioning, and within theremit of his powers, ensures a high level of awareness that respect andprotection of human rights and basic freedoms is one of the mostimportant values in a democratic society, and supports the proposals ofthe Ombudsman relating to the earliest possible adoption of appropriatelegislation in individual areas, this being essential for thesuccessful protection of rights, and necessary for improving legalsecurity and the formal protection of rights.

3. The National Assembly supports the findings of the Ombudsman thatthe functioning of the state based on the rule of law in individualsections of public life is still not satisfactory, for there remainunresolved a range of systemic problems such as the non-harmonised andsubstantively inappropriate labour legislation and the backlogs in thecourts and in other state bodies, for which reason certain basicconstitutional rights of citizens are being violated.

4. The National Assembly supports the findings of the Ombudsman that asa result of staffing and other factors in individual bodies of thefirst and second instance, lengthy decision-making on provisionalquestions and legal remedies, the actions of participants in theprocedure and also as a result of inherent complexity, there have beenmarked delays in the process of denationalisation, which dictates theneed for all factors involved in the denationalisation process toinvest some effort in the accelerated resolving of demands fordenationalisation.

5. The National Assembly supports the findings of the Ombudsman thatthere are many specific problems that individuals encounter which arethe result or reflection of inadequate and outdated legislation, andwhich are not adjusted to the legal foundations and actual situation insociety. For this reason it recommends that the Government of theRepublic of Slovenia (the Government) speeds up the drafting of thenecessary laws and that at the same time, or within a set time, theConstitutional Court eliminates the identified lack of harmony betweenindividual laws and eliminates the inadequacies of new laws that havebeen demonstrated in their practical implementation.

6. The National Assembly supports the findings of the Ombudsman that inconnection with the treatment of detained persons in Slovenia, realrespect of human rights and basic freedoms in the imposition of penalsanctions and particularly in addressing prison sentences should beexpressed primarily in the specific attitude towards each individualserving a prison sentence or under detention, and this criterion mayalso serve as a basis for a true evaluation of the state of affairs inSlovenia’s detention and imprisonment facilities.

7. The National Assembly recommends that the Government, as a matter ofurgency for the protection of constitutional rights, which are beingrestricted in the forced confinement and treatment of patients withmental illness, and in view of the inadequate legislation providingjudicial supervision of this sensitive area of human privacy andpersonal rights, does everything necessary for the earliest possibleadoption of a law which would comprehensively settle this area.

8. The National Assembly supports the recommendations of the Ombudsmanthat it will be necessary to continue devoting special attention tovarious types of social problems, including the acute issue of socialexclusion through long-term unemployment and cases of poverty, whereparticular mention should be made of the vulnerable position ofchildren in families which encounter these problems.

9. The National Assembly supports the efforts of the Ombudsman for theearliest possible adoption of a law that would facilitate theconsistent fulfilment of the provision contained in Article 39,paragraph two of the Constitution, whereby everyone has the right toobtain information of a public nature in which he or she has under lawa well founded legal interest. Here it should be stressed that thepublic transparency of the work of state bodies, as well as theiropenness and facilitation of access to information of a public nature,is an essential component of a modern, democratic country ruled by law.

10. The research department of the National Assembly should draft acomparative review of European countries, focusing on the possibilityof setting up a special ombudsman for children’s rights.

11. Within the current term, the National Assembly will draft a reporton the fulfilment of resolutions adopted upon reading of the fourregular annual reports of the Ombudsman.

12. The National Assembly proposes that the Government speeds up reformof the public administration, and submits to the National Assembly atthe earliest opportunity appropriate legislative proposals (CivilServants Act and the Organisation of the Government, Ministers andAdministration Act).

13. The National Assembly proposes that within a deadline of threemonths the Government drafts a report on how it is responding to thecautions of the Ombudsman in connection with inadequate legislation,which is in many areas giving rise to a range of initiatives andcomplaints from citizens and is even preventing the effective resolvingof issues and problems which affect protection of human rights. Such areport should in future be drafted every year by the Government, andthe National Assembly should include it in the parliamentary agenda,deliberating upon it at the same time as the Ombudsman’s report forthat individual year.

14. The National Assembly proposes that the Government drafts at theearliest opportunity, and if possible within this term, a special lawon protection of patients’ rights, to provide more effective protectionof patients’ rights, whereby the entire healthcare system would also beimproved.

15. The National Assembly proposes that from the aspect of protectionof patients’ rights the Government studies the possibility of settingup a special ombudsman for the area of healthcare.

16. In drafting the law governing public media the Government shouldstudy the possibility of setting up an ombudsman for the area of publiccommunications.

17. The Government should acquaint the National Assembly with theresolutions it has passed following its perusal of the Ombudsman’sreport for 1998.

Annual Report 1999 presented to the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

On April 20, 2000 Mr. Bizjak presented his Annual Report for 1999 to the Speaker of the Slovene National Assembly.

The Annual Report of the ombudsman for 1999 is the fifth report fromthis institution and the last in the term of office of the first HumanRights Ombudsman. Although the format is similar to previous reports itdraws attention to several new problems and additional proposals andjustifications for the resolution of those which the Ombudsman hasalready presented. The abridged annual report in English (available onwww.varuh-rs.si) contains the majority of cases from the originalversion in Slovenian. We have omitted only certain detailed points ofargumentation and specific cases from chapter three, and thedescriptions of certain cases dealt with. In the assessment of thestate of human rights and legal security in the country, contained inthe first chapter, a review of identified shortcomings by individualbranches of authority and by areas of operation of the state and localcommunities is presented. Here the Ombudsman proceeds from the conceptof a state based on the rule of law and within this framework the needfor integral and executable regulations and efficient implementation ofthe same. Dependent on these are the position of the individual, thepossibility of exercising his rights, and the protection of theserights. Chapter Two aims to shed light on certain aspects of problemsencountered by the more vulnerable groups of the population. There aresummarised certain findings relating to the position of the elderly,the disabled, children and women, and the exercising of their rights.In Chapter Three there are described, as is now customary, problemsdealt with, by individual sectors. In Chapter Four information on themethod and scope of the work of the institution itself, includingstatistical data are provided. Chapter Five contains some of the moreinteresting cases dealt with.

Some assessments of the respecting of human rights and legal security in the country

The Ombudsman claims in his Annual Report for 1999 that theimplementation of legislation is inconsistent and that this hasconsiderable consequences for legal security as regulation is changingquickly. Numerous regulations are deficient and discordant with thecurrent legislation and these gaps are being fixed too slowly. Mr.Bizjak warns of a number of bills that are vital for the security ofhuman rights, but have still not been passed. This includes the law onthe fund for the payment of war compensation, the labour relations act,a law governing the protection of rights in the area of mental health,a law on the supervision of intelligence and security activities, and alaw on free legal aid. The passing of the latter is even more importantin the conditions which have arisen since the entering into force ofthe new Civil Procedure Act - which in certain proceedings requirescompulsory representation by a lawyer. At the same time the Ombudsmanfinds that some important laws were nevertheless passed over the pastyear, in particular the Asylum Act, a law on the regulation of thestatus of the citizens of the other successor states of the formerYugoslavia, the general administrative and civil procedure act, and thelegal regulation of the maintenance fund.

In concern to the executive branch, the Ombudsman established that themajority of the problems that concern individuals are a result ofunsuitable, ineffective and sometimes illegal activity. It is worryingthat reforms of the public administration move into an unclear future.The Ombudsman came to the conclusion that with the working of thepublic administration the regulations usually go to the detriment of anindividual, especially when the regulations are unclear and deficient.The Ombudsman plays a great role in these and in many cases achievesthe reversal of such interpretations which are made to the detriment ofan individual.

Concerning the legal authority, once again in 1999 the Ombudsman foundthat proceedings in many courts are lasting an unreasonable length oftime. Despite the resolution of the National Assembly there is still noall-embracing programme to remove backlogs. The problem is a complexone which cannot be solved overnight. For this reason it is all themore important that those responsible in the executive and judicialbranches of authority prepare a plan of all measures of a legislative,organisational, personnel and financial nature which will ensure thenormalisation of the situation in due time. In the area of legislationit will be necessary to continue modifying material, procedural andorganisational legislation. The introduction of arbitration andconciliation are a vital element of seeking solutions here.

INTERNATIONAL CONTACTS

 

Working visit of the Albanian Ombudsman to the Ombudsman of Slovenia

In co-operation with OSCE/ODIHR Slovene Ombudsman hosted in his officein Ljubljana from April 3 to 7, 2000 the Ombudsman of the Republic ofAlbania Mr. Ermir Dobjani and his three deputies (commissioners).Albanian Ombudsman is in the process of establishing his officetherefor was the main aim of his working visit to the office of Mr.Bizjak to get acquainted with the structure and work of the Ombudsmaninstitution in Slovenia.

Other international activities

Slovene ombudsman also participated at the 1st Council of Europe RoundTable with National Human Rights Institutions/3rd European Meeting ofNational Institutions (Strasbourg), at the Conference on Ethics inPublic Administration in Bratislava, at the Conference on the role ofNational Human Rights Institutions in Montenegro, and at the Conferenceon the Role and Institution of Ombudsman in Prague.


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