Varuh ДЌlovekovih pravic

Legal framework

The basis for the foundation of the institution of Human Rights Ombudsman in the Republic of Slovenia is found in the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, which was adopted on 23 December 1991. Article 159 of the Constitution prescribes that the institution of ombudsman for human rights and basic freedoms should be founded in relation to various state bodies, local self-management bodies and bodies in which public authority is invested. The second paragraph allows the establishing of separate ombudsmen for individual fields, although to date the prevailing solution has been the establishing of only one ombudsman with a broad spectrum of responsibilities.

The Human Rights Ombudsman Law was passed in December 1993. The duties and competencies of the ombudsman are based on the classical Scandinavian model. The organisation and work methods of the Human Rights Ombudsman and the division of fields of work and procedures and roles are determined in the Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

By law, the Human Rights Ombudsman has above all the authority to obtain, from state and other bodies which he can monitor, all data without regard to the degree of confidentiality, to perform investigations and in this capacity to call witnesses for questioning. At any time he may perform an inspection of any state body or institution which restricts personal freedom, e.g. psychiatric institutions. He does not have the authority to monitor the work of judges and courts except in cases of improper delay of procedures or clear abuse of power. One important competency of the ombudsman is the serving of the Constitutional Court, together with the plaintiffs, with constitutional complaints due to the violation of human rights. He can also address the Constitutional Court with proposals for the assessment of the constitutionality of regulations without the prior establishing of his legal interest by the Constitutional Court, as is the case for other proposers (Article 23, 50 and 52 of the Law on the Constitutional Court).

The competencies of the Human Rights Ombudsman are also stated in various other laws. Article 65 of the Law on Consumer Protection speaks of the competencies of the ombudsman in the field of consumer protection, and he is legally competent for the ensuring of the right to a healthy living environment as a special area of competence, which is prescribed by Article 15 of the Law on Environmental Protection. Proposals for the initiation of procedures with the Human Rights Ombudsman can, in accordance with Article 52 of the Law on Defence, be made by military personnel if they believe that their rights or basic freedoms have been restricted or violated during their military service.