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Overview of the Ombudsman's activities in the field of human rights of persons with disabilities / July–September 2022

Between July and September 2022, the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia (Ombudsman) processed various initiatives of individuals who contacted him in connection with the exercise of human rights of persons with disabilities. He helped the petitioners by providing explanations about their rights and legislation, addressed recommendations for better exercise of rights to the competent authorities and publicly warned about the rights of persons with disabilities. Employees at the Ombudsman's Office took part in a two-day training course on the preparation of easy read texts, conducted by Zavod Risa.

Annual leave of the provider of the personal assistance service must not encroach on the right of the user

A petitioner informed the Ombudsman that her son could not exercise the right to personal assistance during the time when the provider of the employment, protection and guidance under special conditions service (a special social care and employment centre) was closed and did not provide the service due to the collective annual leave of the employees. The Ombudsman turned to the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (MDDSZ) for an explanation as to who is responsible for ensuring that the beneficiary of personal assistance to whom this right is recognised by a relevant decision is actually provided with assistance by a personal assistant. In the Ombudsman's opinion, the provision of personal assistants should be the duty of the personal assistance provider. The Ombudsman also asked the MDDSZ for clarification on who should respond, and how, when a personal assistant is not provided. The Ombudsman did not receive satisfactory answers to the questions, so he informed the petitioner that, in the opinion of the Ombudsman, the only option is to carry out, in accordance with the provisions of Article 31 of the Personal Assistance Act, an inspection of the personal assistance provider who did not provide her son with a personal assistant, although it was obliged to do so. The Ombudsman expressed to the petitioner his readiness to submit a report to the Social Affairs Inspection Service with her consent, but the petitioner did not give her consent.

Implementation of the EU directive on work-life balance for parents and carers

The petitioner, who takes care of immobile parents, turned to the Ombudsman regarding the implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU, which should have been transposed into Slovenian law by August 2022. The Ombudsman raised this topic at a meeting with representatives of the MDDSZ and received an assurance that the implementation procedures are under way and that the directive should be transposed into Slovenian law in October 2022.

 

Representatives of NPM visit special social care and employment centres Krško - Leskovec, Novo Mesto, Nova Gorica and Tolmin

Representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM),[1] an advisor of the Ombudsman and a representative of the Union of Pensioner Associations of Slovenia, on 6 July 2022, paid an unannounced visit to the Krško - Leskovec special social care and employment centre. They visited the Leskovec pri Krškem and Brežice residential units, where they talked with the employees about the manner of work with the users, and they also visited the premises of the two residential units and talked with the users. 

Representatives of the NPM (an advisor of the Ombudsman and a representative of the Peace Institute), on 18 August 2022, paid an unannounced visit to the Stara Gora unit of the Nova Gorica special social care and employment centre, which houses users with intellectual and physical disabilities and users with brain injuries. They talked with representatives of employees about the methods of working with the users, after which they visited the living spaces and communicated with the users. 

Representatives of the NPM (an advisor of the Ombudsman and a representative of the Novi Paradoks organisation), on 31 August 2022, paid an unannounced visit to the Novo Mesto special social care and employment centre. They talked with representatives of employees about the methods of working with the users and the challenges they face in providing a suitable service for older users. They then visited the living spaces and communicated with the users, who told them that they felt well in the Novo Mesto special social care and employment centre. 

Representatives of the NPM (an advisor of the Ombudsman and a representative of the Slovenia Foundation for UNICEF), on 13 July 2022 and 6 September 2022, paid an unannounced visit to the Tolmin special social care and employment centre. On 13 July they talked with the director of the Tolmin special social care and employment centre about the methods of working with the users and the challenges they face in their work, but they did not enter the living spaces that day due to infections among the users. For this reason, they visited the Tolmin special social care and employment centre again on 6 September 2022 and, accompanied by the users, visited the rooms of the residential unit and apartment group and talked with the users. 

The NPM will prepare a report on all visits.

Head of NMP at an international conference on the situation of incarcerated persons who need additional help in meeting basic life needs due to age, illness or disability  

Ivan Šelih, the Deputy Ombudsman and head of the Slovenian National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) presented at the conference entitled Monitoring the rights of specific groups of people deprived of their liberty on 5 and 6 October in Strasbourg the situation of older persons in care homes and prisons. He highlighted the problems experienced by care homes due to the shortage of capacities and staff. He also pointed out that the institution of the Ombudsman has been striving for some time to improve the situation of prisoners who, due to age, illness or disability, require additional assistance to meet their basic needs in the form of care or social care during imprisonment in order to ensure respect for their personality and dignity.

It is essential to put the rights of people with deafblindness into a legislative framework and to abandon the medical definition of deafblindness

As part of the consultation entitled Regulating the status and rights of persons with deafblindness, which took place in the National Council on 27 September, the Ombudsman noted that the deafblind are not being paid sufficient attention in Slovenia, and therefore welcomed the event. He expressed the opinion that the rights of people with deafblindness must be comprehensively integrated into the legislative framework and, above all, that the medical definition of deafblindness must be abandoned. It must be recognised as a specific form of disability and, following the example of some European countries, the functional criterion of deafblindness must be taken into account by determining the functional state of a deafblind person. While observing the functional criteria, the existing regulations would also have to be amended.

Ombudsman Svetina speaks on the 70th anniversary of the Impoljca care home about urgent reforms of the system in which the needs of the individual will be appropriately supported  

On 13 September, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Impoljca care home in Sevnica, Ombudsman Peter Svetina congratulated the participants in the ceremony on the enviable anniversary of the co-creation of the story of intergenerational cooperation through institutional care and forms of community living. In his address, he said he was convinced that "reforms are necessary, and at their heart must be a system that prioritises individual support for the individual while promoting their full integration into the community." As an advocate of deinstitutionalisation, he praised the residential communities created in five houses in the municipality of Sevnica, which, together with the day care centre, present a shining example. He also pointed out that the rights of the elderly are too often decided by others and that autonomous self-determination is a fundamental right of everyone, as is the right to spend one's old age in dignity or to be cared for in one's own home or in an appropriate institution.

Ombudsman Svetina addresses participants of the 5th Pension and Disability Insurance Conference

In his opening address at the 5th Pension and Disability Insurance Conference on 12 September in Portorož, Ombudsman Peter Svetina focused on the deliberative principle in a democratic system of government, the role of the addressees of legislation in the legislative process, and the role of the parties in decision-making processes on their rights. He stressed the importance of cooperation, networking and proper communication in planning for the future, which certainly includes long-term care and its financing in the pension and disability insurance system.

Ombudsman presents the 2021 report to interested commissions in the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia

On 14 September 2022, Ombudsman Peter Svetina attended the joint session of the Commission for State Organisation and the Commission for Social Protection, Labour, Health and Persons with Disabilities in the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia and presented the 27th annual report of the Human Rights Ombudsman for 2021 and the 2021 report on the implementation of tasks of the National Preventive Mechanism for 2021. In the 2021 annual report, the Ombudsman gave 20 new recommendations in the field of the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. In doing so, he points out that most of the Ombudsman's recommendations regarding persons with disabilities remain unimplemented. He particularly noted the disappointment that the Long-term Care Act insufficiently guarantees the human rights of older people and persons with disabilities, and that the Ombudsman's comments and proposals are mostly not being taken into account and accepted.

Guide on options of appeal to UN human rights committees updated

The Centre for Human Rights, which operates under the auspices of the Ombudsman, has updated the Ombudsman's GUIDE: HOW AND WHEN TO APPEAL TO INTERNATIONAL TREATY BODIES OF THE UNITED NATIONS. Individuals who believe that the state has violated any of their human rights defined in valid international treaties can (under certain conditions) appeal to the international treaty bodies of the United Nations (UN) that supervise the implementation of international treaties in the field of human rights, including the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The guide is in Slovenian language available here (pdf) and here (website).

Previous overviews of the Ombudsman's activities in the field of the rights of persons with disabilities (go to the webpage on which they are published by clicking the indents below):

-             April–June 2022

-             January–March 2022

-             October–December 2021

-             July–September 2021

-             April–June 2021

-             January–March 2021

-             October–December 2020

-             July–September 2020


[1] The task of the National Preventive Mechanism (which was established within the framework of the Ombudsman based on the requirement of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) is to visit places in the country where people are deprived of their liberty and to check how these persons are treated, with the aim of improving their protection against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

 

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