Varuh človekovih pravic

Ombudsman Svetina visited the institution Hiša dobre volje with the President of the Republic of Slovenia and the President of the International Ombudsman Institute

Varuh človekovih pravic Peter Svetina, predsednica republike dr. nataša Pirc Musar in predsednik IOI Chris Field, ombudsman zahodne Avstralije

The Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina welcomed for an official visit Chris Field, President of the IOI – International Ombudsman Institute, who is also the ombudsman competent for Western Australia. His visit is the result of the role and engagement by the institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia in the European part of the IOI and the first official meeting since the recent election of Ombudsman Svetina to the World Executive Committee of the International Ombudsman Institute. Accompanied by Ombudsman Svetina, Ombudsman Field was received by the President of the Republic of Slovenia Dr Nataša Pirc Musar in the Presidential Palace on 5 June 2023. Together they later visited the daily centre Hiša dobre volje in Miren near Nova Gorica, which is a unit of Dom starejših občanov (DSO) Nova Gorica (Nova Gorica Home for the Elderly), where individual support is championed and the inclusion of older people in the community in their home environment is promoted. 

At Hiša dobre volje they were greeted by the Director of DSO Nova Gorica Bojan Stante and then, together with his colleagues, he presented the work and units of the Home which takes care of just over 800 elderly people. The latter told their visitors that they are extremely glad to have Hiša dobre volje in their village, since they can enjoy good company and various activities there and receive the help they need during the hours their loved ones are out of the home.

Daycare centres such as the one in Miren are, according to Ombudsman Svetina, a shining example of best practice in the field of community care. As he emphasised, waiting times for acceptance to institutional care, including premature institutionalisation, and lack of staff as well as standards and norms, are the consequence of the lack of appropriate options for a decent life and appropriate care in the home environment. “Alternatives to institutional care exist – one of them is home help but which is not equally accessible everywhere and is very limited in duration – but unfortunately do not meet the demand. Many people who need help and care and live in their home environment still remain lonely and excluded from the community,” said Svetina. He warned that all too often the rights of the elderly are decided by others and that autonomous decision-making about oneself is the fundamental right of everyone, just like the right to decent living in old age or care in the home environment or in an appropriate institution. “As individuals, a community, and a state we should ask ourselves more often what kind of society we want in the future and what kind of stories of human rights we want to present to the new generations. It is my sincere wish that we could present them a society in which the dignity of every person is respected. Hence, reform of the existing legislation is overdue, and in my opinion, a system prioritising individual support and promoting every person’s full participation in the community should be put in its centre,” Ombudsman Svetina also believes. The President of the Republic of Slovenia and the IOI President agreed, and the latter added that constant attention is needed in the field of human rights since every violation of the rights of an individual marks and influences their lives.

Ombudsman Field emphasised that he and Ombudsman Svetina advocate the strengthening of the meaning of the constitutional principle of the social state and the rule of law, where regression from the already secured human rights and internationally established standards must not be allowed. “Even though the institution of the Ombudsman in Slovenia operates locally, it thinks globally. My colleague Ombudsman Svetina is in the IOI a respected and wise speaker, while the institution he leads is an enthusiastic defender of fundamental human rights, to which, last but not least, almost 6,000 processed cases and 83 recommendations put forward to the government in 2022 testify,” said IOI President Field. As he said, he is glad to be able to get better acquainted with the work and practices of Slovenia in the field of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

On 6 June 2023, the President of the IOI, together with the Human Rights Ombudsman of the RS Peter Svetina, will also be received by the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia Urška Klakočar Zupančič, MSc. In the days to come they will be welcomed by the Minister of Justice Dr Dominika Švarc Pipan and by the Minister for Minister for Slovenians in Neighbouring Countries and Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon. The latter is also in charge of matters relating to Australia, where, according to estimates, around 20,000 Slovenians and their descendants live.

Ombudsman Svetina and IOI President Field will also visit Bled, while President Field will speak at an extended work meeting about the content of the work of the Slovenian national institution for human rights with the extended professional board of the Human Rights Ombudsman. Due attention will be devoted to the future activities of the IOI, which unites more than 200 ombudsman organisations from around the world. It was founded in 1978 and Slovenia has been participating in it since the founding of the institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman.