FOURTH INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON NATIONAL INSTITUTIONSFOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTSMerida, 27 - 29 November, 1997
VARUH ČLOVEKOVIH PRAVIC (HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN) AS NATIONALINSTITUTION FOR THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN SLOVENIA
Ivan Bizjak, Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia
In the beginning of the year 1995 the Human Rights Ombudsman (Varuhčlovekovih pravic) of the Republic of Slovenia started to work. This isa constitutionally based institution which performs the function of anombudsman with an extremely wide jurisdiction. At the same time as thename shows the Human Rights Ombudsman is supposed to be an institutionfor the protection and promotion of human rights. As there is in ourcountry no other national institution for that purpose the Human RightsOmbudsman should be taken as national institution for Slovenia. Thiscould be founded also by description of some legal provisionsconcerning this institution.
According to the Human Rights Ombudsman Act the institution of theHuman Rights Ombudsman has been established to protect human rights andfundamental freedoms against the state bodies, local self-governmentbodies, and bodies entrusted with public authorities (Article 1). TheHuman Rights Ombudsman shall be elected by the Parliament upon thenomination made by the President of the Republic with the two-thirdmajority of all MP votes for the term of six years, and after theexpiration of this term of office, he may be re-elected only once. TheOmbudsman shall be autonomous and perform his function independently,according to the provisions of the Constitution and international legalacts on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Any person who believes that his/her human rights or fundamentalfreedoms have been violated by an act or an action of a body may lodgea petition with the Ombudsman to start the proceedings. The Ombudsmanmay also institute the proceedings on his own initiative and deal withmore general issues relevant to the protection of human rights andfundamental freedoms and legal security of individuals in the Republicof Slovenia.
State bodies, local self-government bodies, and bodies entrusted withpublic authorities shall furnish the Ombudsman, upon his requirement,all the information and data within their competences, irrespective ofthe level of secrecy, and shall enable hit to carry out theinvestigation. The Ombudsman may communicate to each body his opinion,from the aspect of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,about the case he is investigating, irrespective of the type of stageof proceedings which are being conducted by the respective body. TheOmbudsman may make a suggestions and give recommendations, opinions andcritiques to the bodies which are bound to consider them and respondwithin the deadline specified by the Ombudsman.
The Human Rights Ombudsman can lodge a request with the ConstitutionalCourt for the judgment on constitutionality of legal provisions. Thisis the most effective way to eliminate the provisions of thelegislation which do not comply with human rights instruments.TheOmbudsman shall lay before the Parliament general annual reports andspecial reports on his work and inform also public about his finding ofthe facts and steps that have been taken.
The Human Rights Ombudsman is also active in promotion of human rights.This happens through informing the public on problems and violations ofhuman rights, on complaint possibilities, duties of the publicadministration. In cooperation with the NGO's the Ombudsman publishesthe most important international documents on human rights andexplanatory leaflets and brochures on some particular rights.Nevertheless the annual report is distributed widely. The mostimportant findings and recommendations are presented to the public bythe media as well. The Ombudsman personally takes part in many radioand television programs and gives some presentations at schools, at theUniversity or participates in other public events (e.g. round tables).
Having in mind all these, and some other here not mentioned provisionsit is obvious that the institution of Varuh človekovih pravic has beenvested with the competence to promote and protect human rights inSlovenia and has been given very broad mandate, clearly set forth in aconstitutional and legislative text. For these reasons it can beobserved as a national institution for the protection and promotion ofhuman rights.