Varuh ДЌlovekovih pravic

The Ombudsman met representatives of the EP fact-finding mission

Ombudsman Peter Svetina responded to the invitation of European Parliament Fact-Finding Mission representatives, who conducted interviews in Slovenia with the representatives of national authorities, independent institutions, civil society, various experts and the media to examine the situation regarding the rule of law, freedom of the media and the fight against corruption. Together with Deputy Ombudsman Miha Horvat, they met with the mission’s representatives – seven members of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), one representative from each political group and a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control.

Ombudsman Svetina presented the work and competence of the institution, outlined the main areas of the Ombudsman's activity during the pandemic, when the number of complaints increased by 33%, answered questions related to legislation on foreigners and migrations, and presented its evaluation of the state of the rule of law and the freedom of the media. To the question of the Member of the European Parliament Sophie in 't Veld about the signature of the declaration that the heads of the Information Commissioner, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, the Court of Auditors and the Ombudsman adopted on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s sovereignty and independence, he responded that it was a call towards appropriate communication and respect as well as recognition of the importance of sovereign and independent national authorities in a democratic society, regardless of the time frame. He recalled the pressure from politicians, regardless of their political affiliation, which he had often been subjected to as a result of his decisions, and which was reflected in direct and often coordinated attacks via the media and social networks.

On the (non-)funding of the Slovenian Press Agency, he reiterated his concern about the non-implementation of the existing legislation. In his opinion, the funding procedures should be carried out according to the existing criteria without undue delay and any shortcomings in the current arrangements should be remedied accordingly. "Both public services, Radio-Television Slovenia and the Slovenian Press Agency, demand particular attention and should not be held hostage or preyed upon by the winners of each election," said Svetina.

Regarding the protests, he pointed out that the Ombudsman as an institution has been following them all along through the handling of concrete complaints by the affected individuals. He recalled that in May 2021, he and his colleagues visited the Police Operation and Communication Centre in Ljubljana and carried out an audit of its operation (a report of this was also prepared). With regard to the recent protests (5 October 2021), when the police also used a water cannon and other means of riot control, he said that the Ombudsman immediately started activities to review the actions of the police. "As usual, we also examine all appeals and complaints received within our remit. We understand the concern of citizens, and we assure you that, as always, we will conduct the process independently, in accordance with the Human Rights Ombudsman Act," said the Ombudsman.