Natisni vsebino


Slovenian Parliament Confirmed Ombudsman's Report

In November 2002 MPs adopted the Seventh Annual Ombudsman Report for 2001, in which the state was found to be not sensitive enough to the hardship of the people and of having bad co-ordination in the work of government and individual ministries. Parliament also adopted a special recommendation for some measures in improving the work of state bodies. The recommendation, given by the relevant parliamentary interior affairs committee, touches on legal security, limitations of personal liberty, judicial and police procedures and administration. Parliament also called on the government to ensure the minimal standards in accommodation and medical care for prisoners, the accommodation of illegal immigrants, as well as a more efficient way of dealing with court backlogs.

The Ministry of the Interior was asked to draft different complaint procedures, as the existing system does not invite sufficient trust, according to MPs.

Slovenia's Ombudsman Matjaž Hanžek explained to Parliament that the report points to the fact that the people are not acquainted enough with their own rights and are lost in an untransparent entanglement of state institutions, which makes them feel powerless.

Marginalized groups, for instance children, students, the Roma, the poor or refugees rarely seek help and protection at the Ombudsman's Office. That does not mean that their rights are not violated, said Hanžek, but only that they are not aware of their rights, that they are not familiar with complaint instruments, or they are afraid to complain and do not trust society.

The Ombudsman noticed too little tolerance towards those that are different in Slovenia. The report, presented to the President of the National Parliament, Borut Pahor already on 16 July, also established that the state and the individual are in unequal positions. Court procedures are extremely time consuming, and so are administrative procedures, and the institutions have a number of excuses for delays, while the individual is granted no excuse, according to Hanžek.

Hanžek also pointed out the problems of prisoners and foreigners, putting an emphasis on the violation of rights of the "erased" citizens of the former Yugoslavian republics that have been stricken out of the permanent population register after Slovenia's independence and hold no status.

Slovenia Hosted Europe Conference of Ombudsmen

An annual meeting of the voting members of the International Ombudsman Institute was held in Ljubljana between 5 and 7 December. The meeting was focused on the independence of the human rights ombudsman, including financial autonomy and the ombudsman's independence in relation to civil society and to politics. The 62 participants from 26 countries also discussed the ombudsman's independence from the media.

Ombudsman Hanžek stressed that it is important that Slovenia is presented as a country that respects human rights; a country in search of better public administration and quality of life, and not as a country seeking security in militarization and integration in military organisations.

The European ombudsmen and their representatives were received by outgoing Slovenian President Milan Kučan and the President of the National Parliament, Borut Pahor. They also participated at a reception dedicated to Human Rights Day, 10 December, hosted by Ombudsman Hanžek which was a great opportunity to meet with some Slovenian highest state officials.

According to the high public interest for the meeting, a valuable contribution to a better understanding of the independence of the ombudsman was given, as well as, a deeper insight in the work of the ombudsmen’s offices in Europe.

More about the meeting on the web page

Inequality is a Threat to Human Rights, Ombudsman Hanžek Said

The gap between the rich and the poor is too deep and the selective policy of the richest is worsening the position of the poorest. Inequality is thus the biggest threat to human rights, said Slovenia's Ombudsman Matjaž Hanžek at the celebration of the Human Rights Day on 10 December. The celebration, which was organised by Slovenia's UN Association, was joined by Justice Minister Ivo Bizjak and the President of the Constitutional Court, Dragica Wedam-Lukič.

As few as 255 of the richest people on Earth turn over a US$ 1,000bn of profit per year, which is half of the entire world's annual profits, Hanžek pointed out. The policy of the rich is mistaken as they wish to preserve their position at the top, their prestige, and their rights, he added.

The same goes for the richest states, which take the educated people away from the poor countries and thus deprive them of the possibility of improving their situation. Inequality destroys the social, economic, and political security, Hanžek underlined.

Apart from terrorism, which some government elites try to present as the biggest problem, there are some other, graver problems, said Hanžek. Those are famine and poverty, which however, do not endanger those who make decisions in the world, he explained.

Dolčič Fourth Deputy Ombudsman for Children's Rights

The National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia appointed the fourth deputy of Slovenian Ombudsman Matjaž Hanžek. Tonček Dolčič is from 29 January in charge of social affairs and children's rights. "One of my priorities will be informing children about their rights as well as domestic violence," Dolčič told upon the appointment.

As Dolčič, a lawyer by trade, explained, the Ombudsman's Office started drawing more attention to children's rights last year when the group of experts on children was expanded. One of the most important things for Dolčič is raising awareness of rights among children.

Last year alone around 60 violations of children's rights were reported to the Ombudsman. According to Dolčič, who has worked in the Ombudsman's Office since June 2001, "Children's rights are being systematically violated," particularly in cases when the child's parents are divorced and contacts with both parents need to be arranged. Domestic violence requires special attention, as "children are not the only victims of domestic violence, they are certainly the biggest ones".

With the law on the ombudsman enabling two to four deputies to be appointed, Ombudsman Hanžek asked the Parliament to back Dolčič as his fourth deputy last December. The other three deputies are: Aleš Butala, in charge of judicial procedures and infringements of freedom; Jernej Rovšek, responsible for constitutional rights; and France Jamnik, whose main field is administrative matters and employment protection law. All three were appointed in July 2000, and are to serve six years. Hanžek, on the other hand, was appointed in February 2001.

High Officials Called for Zero Tolerance against Violence

“Tolerance of violence, especially violence against children, should be null”, stressed Ombudsman Matjaž Hanžek after the meeting with several top Slovenian officials on 8 January. He explained that the meeting carries a message that the government will act increasingly to decrease the level of tolerance towards violence in society.

Domestic violence topped Hanžek's meeting with State Prosecutor General Zdenka Cerar, Interior Minister Rado Bohinc, Labour Minister Vlado Dimovski, Health Minister Dušan Keber and representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court.

Changes to the existing legislation are probably going to be proposed in the future, according to Hanžek, who added that individual ministries will first try to establish the situation in this field by carrying out surveys. The changes to legislation are to ensure better protection for the victim, plus a national programme on domestic violence prevention is to be initiated, said the Ombudsman.

At the meeting, also Austria's act on violence prevention was discussed, as a model that gives police jurisdiction to intervene to the benefit of the victim of domestic violence even against the person's will.

The amendment will authorise the police to get a restraining order on the perpetrator. The violent person will have to leave the scene or be taken away by force. The police will be obliged to notify social services and NGOs that give aid to victims of violence. Slovenia is planning to introduce a similar regulation.

Ombudsmen of the Western Balkans Discussed Public Servants

Slovenian Ombudsman Matjaž Hanžek on 25 January took part in the first Western Balkans' Ombudsmen meeting in Sarajevo, upon the invitation of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Ombudsman Frank Orton. Focusing their discussions on the work of public servants, Ombudsmen from Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania inspected what they could do to make the public servants' work more efficient. Ombudsmen also presented the organisation of their respective offices and talked about their powers in relation to the politics.

Hanžek also met with Slovenians living in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who presented him the problems they encounter in their everyday lives.

Ombudsman in Slovenia Enjoys Great Trust Among Citizens

According to the January survey Politbarometer, the institution of the Ombudsman is enjoying great trust among Slovenians. A total of 942 people were polled in the research, which was carried out between 20 and 22 January.

At the top of the scale of those enjoying great public trust were also the institution of the President of the Republic, although a slight drop was detected, which Niko Tos of the research centre finds logical, since former president Milan Kučan always enjoyed great trust. Also enjoying great trust is the national currency, education, the PM, the Bank of Slovenia, the army, the media and healthcare. Low trust, on the other hand, was shown in the church and the Red Cross. What is problematic for the society is low support in courts and political parties, Tos commented on the results.

Source: STA, 27 January 2003

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