On 2 October 2023, Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina visited one municipality in the Dolenjska region and two in the Posavje region where he met with their mayors and opened Ombudsman’s Corners.
First, he met with the mayor of Škocjan municipality, then with the mayor of Sevnica municipality, and finally with the mayor of Radeče. In Škocjan municipality, the conversation with the mayor was dedicated primarily to the Roma issue and challenges the municipality has been facing for several decades, especially regarding the Roma settlements of Dobruška vas 41 and Dobruška vas 35. “At the Ombudsman, we have been reporting on the issue of coexistence of the Roma and majority population and the inclusion of Roma people into society for several years. We have also been warning about the fact that the customs and habits of the Roma community in no way justify illegal actions. Last year, special attention was devoted to the question of forced marriages, especially involving underage persons. We find it unusual that centres for social work and administrative units have not detected any cases of forced marriage or suspicion of the application of a forced marriage conclusion in the discussed year. This points to the still hidden issue of forced marriages and problems with the identification of such cases and victims,” highlighted Ombudsman Svetina at the meeting.
The Ombudsman also discussed with the mayors of the Sevnica and Radeče municipalities the challenges and most pressing issues they face in their work. The Ombudsman assured them both that he will act with the competent authorities within his jurisdiction.
In the company of mayors, the Ombudsman opened and introduced the Ombudsman’s Corner in all three municipalities. The websites of 42 Slovenian municipalities where there is already an Ombudsman’s Corner have a subpage of the Ombudsman’s Corner where all information about the Ombudsman and a form for filing a complaint are available in the digital form. The purpose of Ombudsman’s Corners is to enable inhabitants to be familiarised with when and how they can turn to the Ombudsman, when the Ombudsman can help, and when he cannot intervene in their problem because it is not within his jurisdiction. Every year, the institution of the Ombudsman receives several thousand letters and complaints from people who ask for help because they believe their rights have been violated. “Last year we dealt with almost six thousand cases, which is much more than before the pandemic. The matters discussed pertained to the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the principle of good administration, and justice. Such complaints are thoroughly examined and then we react appropriately. We pay special attention to the violation of children’s rights, rights of people with disabilities, the elderly, foreigners, and other groups of inhabitants,” emphasised Ombudsman Svetina at the meetings with the mayors.