On 20 March 2023, Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina visited four municipalities in the Gorenjska region where he met with their mayors. They talked about the challenges and most pressing issues they encounter in their work. The Ombudsman assured them that within his competences he will raise the matters with the competent authorities.
Ombudsman Svetina first visited the Municipality of Radovljica, then Žirovnica, Jesenice, and Kranjska Gora. “People turn to us mostly with problems in the field of social transfers and tasks performed by administrative units. The areas of water supply and roads present the most frequent problems belonging under the jurisdiction of municipalities. We do not detect problems related to non-functioning of officials in municipalities,” summarised Ombudsman Svetina.
In all four municipalities, Ombudsman Svetina and the mayors opened and presented the Ombudsman’s Corner. The purpose of the Corner is to bring the institution of the Ombudsman closer to the widest possible circle of people in the environment they live in. The Ombudsman’s Corner is equipped with a stand which offers citizens useful information about the work of the Ombudsman in the form of brochures and leaflets as well as the form for a filing complaint. “The Ombudsman’s Corner will make it easier for us to come closer to inhabitants in their local environment and help them if they find themselves in distress or have problems in their search for answers or clarifications from various institutions or bodies. Information is available not only in the digital but also in the traditional form, since many people have trouble navigating through the flood of on-line information,” explained Svetina.
As Svetina stated, the Ombudsman’s Corners are working out well, since they have been receiving more complaints from the municipalities in which they have been set and so they decided to speed up the process of their establishment in other municipalities. In general, the number of complaints has decreased in the last year and neared the pre-corona level. Namely, during the epidemic, the number of complaints increased by around 30 per cent.
However, the shift in awareness of what the Ombudsman’s competences are and which problems can be dealt with has not yet occurred. “There are still many complaints with which we cannot help, such as family and neighbourly disputes,” stated Svetina, adding that in such cases they advise people which body they should turn to.