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The Catalan Ombudsman participates in an international seminar on the access of the most vulnerable groups to ombudsman institutions

10/11/2021

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The Manchester Memorandum has dealt with the role of ombudsmen in times of crisis and has been organised around four round tables

Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, moderated the round table on vulnerability

The Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, has travelled to Manchester to attend the Manchester Memorandum seminar, organised by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman of the United Kingdom and the International Ombudsman Institute, which was held on 9 and 10 November.

The seminar, which was attended by more than 100 ombudsman institutions from around the world, dealt with the role of ombudsmen in times of crisis, such as the current one, with a special focus on the most vulnerable groups. In this context, the report The art of the Ombudsman has been presented, which provides important information for these institutions to be able to face the challenges they are currently dealing with.

The two days were organised around four round tables, which discussed the revision of the guarantee mechanisms for ombudsman institutions, such as peer reviews and the Venice Principles, the development of competency frameworks, how to reach the most vulnerable citizens, and the branding of the term "ombudsman".

The first of the round tables, moderated by Catalan Ombudsman Rafael Ribó, dealt with the importance of reaching out to the most vulnerable groups in society and how to create mechanisms for ombudsman institutions to listen to and interact with this group. In this session, we have been able to hear how they face this challenge in the Netherlands, with the Ombudsman, Reinier van Zupthen; in Pakistan, with the representative of the Federal Tax Ombudsman Secretariat, Sana Noor, with the Ombudsman Sindh, Pakistan, Azaj Ali Khan; and in Israel, with the participation of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Matanyahu Englman.

The second day began with a round table on the review of mechanisms to guarantee the work of ombudsmen, such as Peer reviews and the Venice principles, and how they can be used to generate changes. In May 2019, the Council of Europe approved the so-called Venice Principles, which recognise the role of the ombudsman in strengthening democracy, the rule of law, good administration, and the protection and promotion of human rights. In this capacity, it demands that these institutions be configured with parameters that guarantee solidity and protection and constitute a working tool in the hands of all ombudsmen's offices to work more firmly in favour of human rights. Marie Anderson, Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, and Jordana Dawson Hayes and Maddy Pears, from the New Zealand Ombudsman's Office, took part in this debate.

 During the round table on the term "ombudsman", the degree of knowledge and perception of the figure dedicated to the defence of rights in different societies was analysed. The need for ombudsmen's offices to assume the use of inclusive and gender-neutral language has been highlighted in order to eliminate any barriers that may still exist, both in terms of the name of the institution and the work it carries out.

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