“Human rights and good administration are not privileges, but necessities, PACE Secretary General Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis underlined, addressing the Conference “The Ararteko Act. Proposals for the Future: Rethinking Ombuds-institutions” on 13 June at the Basque Parliament in Vitoria-Gasteiz, where she presented the Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution (Venice Principles).
“Human rights and maladministration have a cost, too, for the individual victims as well as society as a whole”, she stressed, while recalling the Venice Principles asking all States to provide appropriate funding to Ombuds-institutions that render them institution financially independent. “The human rights protection system established by the European Convention on Human Rights is based on the principle of subsidiarity. This means that it is, first and foremost, the duty of each member State to uphold the Convention at home. Ombuds institutions are, therefore, a vital part of the human rights protection system at the country level”, she continued.
In this context, PACE Secretary General also pointed to the important task of the Ombudspersons in alerting the parliament when a law, or its application, violates human rights. “In their public report to the parliament, Ombudspersons should alert the legislature to deficiencies of laws, concerning, for instance, the difficulty of their implementation or the absence of sufficient guarantees for the respect of individual rights”, she said.
The important role played by Ombuds-institutions has recently been recognised at the highest political level by the leaders of the 46 Council of Europe member States. “The Reykjavik Summit strongly supported the Council of Europe’s engagement with National Human Rights Institutions, which include Ombuds institutions”, she underlined. The Council of Europe and its member States as a whole, she stressed, “have thus reaffirmed their present and future commitment towards supporting and protecting the work of Ombuds institutions. Their work has been and will always remain an indispensable element of states built on democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights – which are also the three ‘pillars’ of the Council of Europe’s mission”, she concluded.