The ombudsmen highlight the usefulness of the institution through the acquisition of new powers in contexts of crisis


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They emphasize the role of supervision of private companiesthat provide services of general interest

The seminar Human Rights Challenges, organized by the Ombudsman of Catalonia, in the framework of the activities of the International Ombudsman Institute, has devoted the third session to discuss the new powers that ombudsman institutions are acquiring in the current social and economic crisis.

Ombudsmen and experts particularly stressed the usefulness of the institution in private areas, such as supervisors of companies that provide services of general interest and the defence of the right to basic supplies for the most vulnerable people.

Chaired by the Ombudsman of Sweden, Elisabet Fura, the morning session on Wednesday April 27 has had as keynote speakers the vice-president of the European Committee for Social Rights, Petros Stangos, and the Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Barcelona, Joan Vintró. 

Stangos remarked that in the context of crisis the role of the Ombudsman is essential and more necessary than ever. Joan Vintró stressed the new powers of the ombudsmen in the field of torture prevention, transparency and mediation. It has also been discussed the role of ombudsmen in the defence of the rights of minorities, such LGTBI.

During the panel discussion and subsequent debate it has been highlighted that these new powers emerge in a context of crisis and austerity policies that have had a great impact on social rights.

The effects of these adjustments have impacted on public health systems, benefits and pensions, among others. These are situations that violate the European Social Charter, which is a fundamental instrument for the ombudsmen, and which they should promote and disseminate in the framework of their work and decisions.