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The ombudsmen link the attacks against the independence of the institution to democratic regressions

27/04/2016

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"An independent ombudsman endowed with human and material resources is a key instrument to guarantee democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights"

The Catalan Ombudsman states at the closing of the seminar on human rights that networking is crucial to strengthen the ombudsman institution 

Austerity as a justification to suppress or limit the independence and the powers of the ombudsman institution. This has been one of the threats to the ombudsman institutions highlighted in the speeches and discussions of the last session of the seminar on human rights organized by the Catalan Ombudsman in Barcelona. The event has brought together ombudsmen around the world, mostly European.

The participants highlighted that the ombudsman is a guarantee and proof of the existence of a political system that respects the rule of law and fundamental human rights. As the General Deputy of the Catalan Ombudsman, Jaume Saura, stressed in the final conclusions, "an independent ombudsman endowed with human and material resources is a key instrument to guarantee democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights". 

The Ombudsman of Dayton-Montgomery County (Ohio-USA) and Vice President of the IOI, Diane Welborn, chaired the presentations. The Austrian Ombudsman and Secretary General of the IOI, Günter Kräuter, who gave the keynote speech, offered the support of the IOI to the institutions in danger of losing independence or even being suppressed.

In this regard, the Ombudsman of La Rioja, an institution that was supressed through the rationalization of resources applied by the Spanish government, explained her experience. María Bueyo Díez regretted that the greatest threat to the ombudsmen is limited budget that prevents them from carrying out their work properly.

On behalf of the Ombudsman of Slovakia, Pavel Zilink highlighted three key words in the work of ombudsman institutions: persistence, cooperation and trust.

The closing speeches gathered the President of the IOI and Namibian Ombudsman, John Walters; the Ombudsman of Portugal and President of the FIO, José de Faria Costa; the Spanish Ombudsman, Soledad Becerril, and the Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó. As organizer and director of the European IOI, Ribó thanked all participants and stressed that networking is crucial to strengthen the ombudsman institution.

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