Varuh človekovih pravic

Overview of the international activities in 1997

The Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia was elected in 1996 as a member of the leadership of the International Ombudsman Institute and as deputy president of the European Ombudsman Institute. His taking over of important duties at the international level was reflected in a strengthening of international cooperation in 1997.

In April the ombudsman visited the Institution of Ombudsmen in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and on this occasion met the representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Ms. Greta Haller, and the president and vice-president of the Bosnian federation, Mr. Vladimir Šolić and Mr. Ejup Ganić. During his working visit to Bosnia, the ombudsman went to Bihač, Mostar and Sarajevo, where he also met with members of the local Slovenian community.

At the invitation of the Human Rights Directorate of the Council of Europe, the ombudsman attended a conference in Strasbourg in the middle of May entitled A Social Charter for the 21st Century, which was organised by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. The conference was attended by representatives of the member-states of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, international and non-governmental organisations, the social partners and representatives of academic organisations. The central topic of the conference was the importance of the European Social Charter, with a debate being held on the possibilities for improving it.

At the end of May the Council of Europe organised a seminar in Strasbourg on the proposal to establish a Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner. At the seminar the ombudsman presented a well-received paper on the Role and Experience of an Ombudsman in a New Democracy, in which he used the example of Slovenia to set out the experience gained and the lessons learned about the work of an ombudsman in the countries in transition.

At the invitation of the Lithuanian Office of Parliamentary Ombudsmen the Slovenian Ombudsman paid a working visit to Lithuania in early June, where he met the deputy president of the Lithuanian parliament, the president of the Constitutional Court, members of the Lithuanian parliamentary committee for human and civil rights and the parliamentary ombudsmen.

After completing his working visit to Lithuania the ombudsman continued his journey to the Latvian capital, Riga, where he attended the 3rd International Workshop of the United Nations Development Programme on the ombudsman and national institutions for the protection of human rights. Most of the participants were from Central and Eastern Europe, and the Slovenian Ombudsman made an extensive presentation of the institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman, focusing on the responsibilities, organisation and scope of work.

In June the ombudsman visited Canada and the United States. He met the ombudsmen of both Quebec and Ontario, Mr. Daniel Jacoby and Ms. Roberta Jamieson. In Toronto, in cooperation with the local Slovenian associations, the ombudsman made himself available for discussions with anyone who had problems in proceedings before official bodies of the Republic of Slovenia, and spoke at an event entitled Slovenian Day. In Cleveland, in the United States, he participated in celebrations marking a Slovenian public holiday and took part in a round table debate.

In July the Ombudsman of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr. Julius Jasaitis, headed a working visit to his Slovenian counterpart. The visiting delegation were informed about the practical aspects and the powers of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Republic of Slovenia. They met representatives of the Office of the President of the Republic and the Constitutional Court, and the president of the parliamentary committee for internal politics and justice, and also visited the transit centre for foreigners and held talks with its director. During their time in Slovenia the Lithuanian guests also visited the prison at Dob and spoke with the prison’s directors.

In September the ombudsman took part in the 6th meeting of European national ombudsmen in Jerusalem. On this occasion the Slovenian Ombudsman had the opportunity to speak on behalf of his European colleagues at a reception with Israeli president Mr. Ezer Weizman.

Also in September the ombudsman met the constitutional commission of the Swedish parliament, and explained the constitutional position of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Slovenia and the experience gained in its work thus far to the members of the commission.

In October the ombudsman spent several days visiting the Bundestag in Germany, where he met, among others, the president of the petitions committee, Ms. Christa Nickels, and the special parliamentary commissioner for the army, Ms. Claire Marienfeld, and also attended a session of the petitions committee and the session of the Bundestag at which the annual report of the petitions committee was deliberated. During a visit to Dresden the ombudsman met the justice minister of Saxony, Mr. Steffen Heitman, and representatives of the petitions committee in the parliament of the state of Saxony.

At the end of November the ombudsman attended the 4th international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights in Merida, Mexico, at the invitation of the president of the Mexican national commission for human rights, Dr Mireille Roccatti. At the international workshop the participants, including many national ombudsmen from Europe and other parts of the world, discussed strengthening cooperation among national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, sensitive and marginal groups, migrational trends, the struggle against racism and xenophobia, and economic, social and cultural rights; in other words, the right to progress in the modern world.

At the invitation of the Slovenian Ombudsman, in December the Ombudsman of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Branko Naumovski, headed a delegation to Slovenia. Naumovski, who is the first Macedonian ombudsman and took up his post in the middle of 1997, spoke with his hosts about various experiences and the problems which the Slovenian Ombudsman encounters in his work. He also familiarised himself with the workings and the organisation of the ombudsman in Slovenia. Naumovski also took part in the news conference which we organised ahead of the international day of human rights.