Posts Tagged ‘Ombudsman’

Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar winner of 2018 RAFTO award!

September 27, 2018

Polish lawyer Adam Bodnar – Defender of minority rights and judicial independence in Poland (Photo credit: Kluczek/RPO.GOV.PL )

The Rafto Prize 2018 is awarded to the Polish lawyer Adam Bodnar and the institution he leads, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, for the important stance taken in the face of current political developments in Poland.  A key function of the Ombudsman, or the Commissioner for Human Rights, is to ensure that the public authorities secure and respect the human rights of all members of Polish society. As lawyer and Ombudsman, Adam Bodnar (41) has highlighted the crucial role played by independent Ombudsman institutions in safeguarding human rights in Poland – and other countries – where such actors and institutions  increasingly have come under attack.

Since Law and Justice (PiS) won the Polish election in October 2015, the party has used its majority in the National Parliament to adopt legislation that reduces the independence of the courts and centralizes state powers. New laws grant the government control of state media and place severe limits on freedom of information and political lobbying. The rights of vulnerable groups have been repeatedly ignored.  “The award is not just an award to my work and the institution, but mostly a support from your community given to the Polish civil society, academia, judges and lawyers fighting for rule of law, juridical independence, pluralism and protection of minorities in Poland,” said Adam Bodnar.

The Rafto Prize for 2018 to Adam Bodnar and the Ombudsman for Human Rights highlights the rolling back of democracy and human rights protections in Poland. The conflict over the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and the Supreme Court are important internationally because they are symbolic of an alarming tendency where the independence of courts increasingly is under political pressure. It is crucial that the international community, the EU, Norway and other European countries take a clear stance against human rights violations and attacks on the rule of law and minority rights that take place in our own region. Adam Bodnar, being the civil servant, cannot accept the prize money awarded along with the Rafto Prize. The Rafto Foundation will identify and donate the prize money to civil society working for human rights in Poland.

For more on this and other awards: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/rafto-prize

https://www.rafto.no/news/the-2018-rafto-prize-to-ombudsman-adam-bodnar

Human rights defenders from York: Valdênia Paulino Lanfranchi

January 24, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.
 

Valdênia grew up in the slums – or favelas – of Sao Paolo, Brazil’s biggest city. Home for her mother, father, three brothers, two sisters and herself was a small house with a tin roof. Her mother took in sewing. Her father worked in a factory until, in his mid-40s, he became ill. Because of poverty, many children end up on the streets, where they’re at risk of violence, abuse, disease and hunger. They have little chance of an education – and many girls end up in prostitution, Valdênia says.

When she was 14, Valdênia helped open a ‘safe’ house for young girls who worked as prostitutes. The police didn’t approve. “Who controls prostitution?” she says. “The policemen, and the men who have money.”

York Press:
Valdênia Paulino Lanfranchi

She lived with the girls for ten years, then helped open two human rights centres to help families in the favelas. She went to university, and got degrees in education and law. Eventually, after suffering repeated attacks and threats, she and her husband Renato, also a human rights worker, moved to Paraiba, in north-eastern Brazil. There Valdênia, now 47, joined the Oscar Romero human rights centre, working to protect the rights of local ‘indigenous’ people.

She also, in 2011, became Police Ombudsman for Paraiba – the first woman to hold the post. It brought her into conflicts with ‘those in power’. “I was then a victim of everything from raids on the headquarters of our organisations to sexual violence and death threats.” Brazil is supposed to be one of the world’s emerging democracies. “But we have more than 100 human rights defenders threatened with death,” she says. “We have inequality, poverty, hunger. Why? What has happened?”

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Lithuanians better educated about their access to human rights defenders

December 8, 2014

It doesn’t always have to be gloom in this blog:  Petras Vaida, from Vilnius, reports on 8 December 2014 that a survey shows that more than half Lithuanians would know where to address in case they think their rights were violated (against 27,9% of respondents  in 2012.)

141208_ombudsm_lit.jpg
Each year the Seimas Ombudsmen ask Lithuanians whether they have enough information about the human rights defenders who may help them in case their rights are violated in municipal and governmental institutions. This year’s survey based showed that fifty-four% of respondents would know where to request help in case their rights were violated, including 42% who would address the Seimas Ombudsmen. The researchers observed that younger, more educated, urban and richer respondents knew better where to address in case their rights were violated.

More than half Lithuanians would know where to address in case their rights were violated :: The Baltic Course | Baltic States news & analytics.

Armenian HRD says: Hospitals charge extra sums from parents

August 1, 2013

Here an example of what an ‘official’ human rights defender (the Armenian Ombudsman with the somewhat confusing title HRD)  can do in the area of social rights:

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (HRD) issued a statement saying that the HRD has already examined omissions in the State Child Health Certificate Program in his previous annual report. Under the program children under the age of 7 shall receive free medical care. Yet parents, while having the necessary documents for free health care, often have to pay extra money to some doctors. “A year has passed since the problem was raised, but there has been no progress. Moreover, the Defender continues receiving complaints about such violations, especially complaints about Austrian Mother and Child Hospital of Gyumri CJSC. The Defender officially informed the Health Minister about it, but he has not received any definite answer about whether those guilty were held accountable or not. The Human Rights Defender, Karen Andreasian, calls upon citizens to apply to the HRD Staff in case of encountering such a problem.

via HRD: Hospitals charge extra sums from parents – aysor.am – Hot news from Armenia.

 

Human Rights Defenders help to reduce the number of bride kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan but what is the real number?

April 17, 2013

According to the ‘24.kg news agency‘ [only] 394 brides have been kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan in 2012. Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun said this at a meeting of the parliament Committee for Human Rights. He said that the number used to be much larger: “But the Ombudsman’s Institute, human rights defenders, journalists, and us – we all are working on it. We can see positive changes. Rate of brides kidnapping for forced marriage has decreased. A man who kidnapped a bride has been sentenced to 6 years with our assistance”.

However in the related article mentioned below from June 2012 number estimates are much higher: ” Since it often goes unreported, the actual number of bride kidnappings is unknown although Kyrgyzstan Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun estimates that more than 8,000 young women are kidnapped each year.”

http://eng.24.kg/community/2013/04/16/26656.html