Teresa Jiménez-Becerril recibe al Grupo de Expertos en la Lucha contra la Violencia sobre las Mujeres y la Violencia Doméstica

Date of article: 01/03/2024

Daily News of: 05/03/2024

Country:  Spain

Author: National Ombudsman of Spain

Article language: es

La adjunta primera del Defensor del Pueblo, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril, se ha reunido este viernes con representantes del Grupo de Expertos en la Lucha contra la Violencia sobre las Mujeres y la Violencia Doméstica (Grevio) del Consejo de Europa

Esta reunión se enmarca dentro de la visita que el Grevio está realizando esta semana España para evaluar el cumplimiento de los compromisos adquiridos con la ratificación del Convenio de Estambul. El grupo de expertos se ha reunido con administraciones públicas, instituciones, organizaciones sociales y sociedad civil.

Por parte del Grevio han participado en la reunión Ivo Holc de Eslovenia y Laura Albu, y  la secretaria del Mecanismo de Seguimiento del Convenio del Consejo de Europa sobre Prevención y Lucha contra la Violencia contra las Mujeres y la Violencia Doméstica, Françoise Kempf.

El Grevio está compuesto por 15 expertos y expertas independientes de diferentes países y su misión es supervisar la implementación del Convenio del Consejo de Europa para prevenir y combatir la violencia contra las mujeres y la violencia doméstica.

En el encuentro también han estado presentes, por parte del Defensor del Pueblo, la directora de gabinete de la Adjuntía Primera, María José Pastor; la técnica del Área de Seguridad y Justicia, Ana Ovejero, y las asesoras técnicas del Gabinete del Defensor del Pueblo, Ana González-Páramo y Blanca Cheli.

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Conference on Access to Justice and Rule of Law

Date of article: 29/02/2024

Daily News of: 05/03/2024

Country:  Georgia

Author: Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia

Article language: en

On February 29, 2024, Public Defender Levan Ioseliani participated in a conference on the theme: “Making Justice Equally Accessible for All”.

Representatives of national human rights institutions, authorities, court, civil society organizations and academic circles discussed the trends and achievements of the rule of law in Georgia and the best practices of strengthening institutions. They talked about the challenges and achievements in the direction of human rights protection, including the protection of the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups, as well as the goals and steps to be implemented to achieve positive results through strategic litigation.

The conference was opened by Robin Dunnigan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Georgia.

In his speech, Public Defender Levan Ioseliani spoke about the progress achieved in the direction of justice in the last 30 years and the challenges that must be addressed. In particular, he emphasized the need to reform the judicial system. “Trust in a fair judicial system determines the existence of a fair society, which in itself is a guarantee of the strengthening of democracy and state institutions," he said.

The Public Defender briefly reviewed the problems described in the annual parliamentary report and the recommendations developed to eliminate them, the lawsuits and opinions of the friend of the court filed with the Constitutional Court. He also added that there were issues that could only be resolved with the active involvement of the Parliament.

He positively evaluated the role and activities of the Public Defender in the direction of identifying the cases of sexual harassment and discrimination, which is proved by the increased number of applications and the readiness of citizens to apply to the Public Defender for the protection of their rights. He spoke about the ongoing information campaign to eliminate violence against women. According to him, in the next 2 years, the Office will open 4 additional regional offices, which will allow the Public Defender’s Office to cover the entire country.

"We spend a lot of time and energy to raise public awareness. Every year we hold several hundred of meetings with various thematic groups, especially in the regions. This is a preventive measure, but it is clear that the capabilities of the Public Defender alone will not be enough to combat femicide, early marriage, domestic violence and other types of violence, and effective, coordinated work of all agencies is needed to overcome these challenges. In this regard, we have legislative initiatives that are still in the process of consultations, and I hope that with joint efforts we will be able to agree on the final versions," the Public Defender said at the end of his speech.

Nino Bakakuri, judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Londa Bichikashvili, representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia, Davit Asatiani, Chairman of the Georgian Bar Association, Davit Simonia, Director of the Legal Aid Service, Rati Ionatamishvili, Member of Parliament of Georgia, and Nona Kurdovanidze, Chairwoman of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, also delivered speeches at the conference.

Ana Kvatchadze, acting Head of the Equality Department of the Public Defender’s Office, presented a report on the rights of vulnerable groups.

The event was organized by the USAID Rule of Law Program.

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Étude déontologie et relations police / gendarmerie – population : la nécessité d’asseoir une confiance réciproque

Date of article: 27/02/2024

Daily News of: 05/03/2024

Country:  France

Author: National Ombudsman of France

Article language: fr

Le Défenseur des droits publie ce jour les résultats d’une étude menée auprès des policiers et des gendarmes sur leurs attitudes vis-à-vis des relations avec la population, de la déontologie et des instances de contrôle interne et externe. Confiée à des chercheurs du Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droits et les institutions pénales (CESDIP) et du laboratoire Pacte avec le soutien du Défenseur des droits et du Centre de recherche de l’École des officiers de la gendarmerie nationale (CREOG), cette étude conforte les recommandations portées par la Défenseure des droits.

Perception du métier par les policiers et gendarmes

Les pratiques professionnelles suscitent des perceptions et résultats contrastés. Si l’usage de la force pour obtenir des aveux est réprouvé dans plus de 9 cas sur 10, près de 6 répondants sur 10 (59,8 %) considèrent que dans certains cas l’utilisation de plus de force que ce qui est prévu dans les textes devrait être toléré. Par ailleurs, la majorité des policiers et gendarmes considère que mener à bien leur mission est prioritaire sur le respect de la loi (51,8 % contre 45,2 %).

L’efficacité des contrôles d’identité ne fait pas non plus l’unanimité. En effet, alors que la Cour des comptes a estimé leur nombre à 47 millions pour l’année 2021, près de 40 % des policiers et des gendarmes jugent que les contrôles fréquents ne sont pas ou peu efficaces pour garantir la sécurité d’un territoire.

Les résultats de cette étude mettent également en lumière le fait que policiers et gendarmes ont une connaissance insuffisante du contrôle externe et des organes en charge de la déontologie. En effet, si plus de 99% ont entendu parler du code de déontologie, 45,7% estiment être insuffisamment formés aux règles de déontologie. Pour autant, la formation, lorsqu’elle existe, semble avoir un effet positif sur les attitudes des agents vis-à-vis des organismes de contrôle interne et externe.

Relations police / gendarmerie – population

Concernant l’idée que le policier ou le gendarme devrait informer et justifier son action devant les habitants, près d’un répondant sur deux (47,3 %) se montre en désaccord. Une part importante (40,8 %) des policiers et des gendarmes déclare avoir fait l’objet d’une insulte ou d’une agression verbale dans le mois précédent. Enfin, les policiers et gendarmes témoignent d’une faible confiance dans le public : seuls 23,8% des policiers et 34,3% des gendarmes sont d’accord avec l’affirmation selon laquelle « on peut globalement faire confiance aux citoyens pour se comporter comme il faut ». 

Alors que ces chiffres témoignent de relations complexes entre la police et la gendarmerie et la population, la formation continue en la matière apparaît lacunaire : une faible minorité des gendarmes et des policiers ont bénéficié de formation dans l’année écoulée sur la désescalade de la violence (respectivement 12 % et 5,5 %) ou la capacité à « réagir face à une personne qui pense qu’elle n’a pas été traitée de manière juste ou respectueuse » (7,2 % et 6,1 %). De la même manière, près de la moitié des agents (45,7 %) se dit insuffisamment formée aux droits des citoyens : seuls 66,6 % ont étudié le droit des mineurs, 53,5% le droit de la non-discrimination, 28,8 % le droit des réfugiés et des étrangers et 20,1% les droits économiques et sociaux.

Des résultats qui confortent les recommandations du Défenseur des droits

Forte de ces résultats, la Défenseure des droits invite les pouvoirs publics et institutions concernées à mettre en oeuvre les recommandations qu’elle a formulées à de nombreuses reprises, telles que :

  • Renforcer la formation initiale et continue des policiers et des gendarmes, à laquelle le Défenseur des droits contribue, notamment sur :
    • les enjeux relatifs à la relation aux publics et la désescalade de la violence ;
    • l’obligation, dans l’usage de la force, du respect du principe de proportionnalité et notamment des conséquences physiques sur les personnes ;
    • la connaissance du rôle du Défenseur des droits, autorité indépendante chargée d’assurer le respect de la déontologie par les policiers et les gendarmes ;
    • les contrôles d’identité en veillant à ce que les modules dédiés soient effectivement suivis ;
  • Mettre en place un dispositif d’évaluation de la pratique des contrôles d’identité, de leur efficacité et de leur impact sur les relations avec la population et assurer leur traçabilité.

Contact presse :
Juliette REBELLES
Chargée de mission presse
Tél. : 01 53 29 22 72 / 06 75 08 05 33
juliette.rebelles@defenseurdesdroits.fr

 

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Annual Report of the Ombudsman on Psychiatric Hospitals, Prisons, Child Correctional Schools and Refugee Centres: Violated Rights, Misery and Absence of Medical Care

Date of article: 27/02/2024

Daily News of: 05/03/2024

Country:  Bulgaria

Author: National Ombudsman of Bulgaria

Article language: en

The Ombudsman has published the institution’s Eleventh Annual Report based inspections of places for deprivation of liberty in 2023 carried out by the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) – Note: The NPM is a specialised directorate at the Ombudsman’s institution which monitors, inspects and assesses the observance of human rights at prisons, detention facilities, homes for medico-social care for children, family-type accommodation centres for children and adults, psychiatric hospitals, homes for elderly people with disabilities, mental disorders and dementia, centres for migrants and refugees, and others.

16 February 2024

 

The Ombudsman has published the institution’s Eleventh Annual Report based inspections of places for deprivation of liberty in 2023 carried out by the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) – Note: The NPM is a specialised directorate at the Ombudsman’s institution which monitors, inspects and assesses the observance of human rights at prisons, detention facilities, homes for medico-social care for children, family-type accommodation centres for children and adults, psychiatric hospitals, homes for elderly people with disabilities, mental disorders and dementia, centres for migrants and refugees, and others. 

According to the report, in 2023 the NPM team carried out 50 inspections of places listed, sent a total of 129 recommendations to different state bodies and followed up on specific measures taken to improve the conditions at places for placement, detention and serving deprivation of liberty.

The observations and conclusions in 2023 continue to find systemic problems with respect to which the Ombudsman has repeatedly raised the alarm for the responsible institutions; however, so far there have been no actual and appropriate solutions.

Solutions have yet to be found to the problems related to the insufficient funding and chronic shortage of staff to ensure quality medical service and healthcare for the persons in all categories of the sites being inspected. In addition, there is no budget funding for social activities at places for the serving of punishments – the social work and the reintegration of the persons deprived of liberty continue to be a matter of uncertainty for many prisons.

The Report concludes that, in the past two years, the Ombudsman has first and foremost raised the topic of protection of the rights of persons with mental disabilities.

It is noted that a total of 25 surprise inspections were carried out at psychiatric institutions and residential social services centres in the period 2022 – 2023.

“Within the meaning of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the state psychiatric hospitals are places for deprivation of liberty because some patients are placed there based on judgments and may not leave voluntarily. This is why, in the capacity of NPM, the Ombudsman conducts monitoring to ensure that there is no torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment in such places,” the Report notes.

It also points out that, in the period from 2019 to 2022, the Ombudsman as the NPM repeatedly brought to the attention of the responsible bodies the existence of chronic issues at state psychiatric hospitals; findings were made concerning degrading material living conditions, chronic lack of food for the patients due to a wrong model of financing, poor quality of medical care, lack of human resources or sustainable policy to overcome it, including the absence of social services to support the reintegration of patients at state psychiatric hospitals.

In this regard, the Ombudsman insists that a number of urgent measures should be taken to overcome any form of degrading treatment or torture. First, the act of “torture” should be provided for as a separate crime; next, practices of effective control should be put in place – pursuant to Article 127 (4) of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Prosecutor’s Office is to exercise regular supervision in the implementation of criminal and other enforcement measures in all state psychiatric hospitals because they are deemed to be places for deprivation of liberty.

The Ombudsman also recommends an overhaul of the regulatory framework for the procedure to apply measures of temporary physical restriction with regard to patients with established mental disorders and the creation of a protocol to apply the enforcement measures of “immobilisation” and “isolation” which will set out clearly the duration and frequency of isolating and securing (tying) patients for a period of 24 hours as well as specifying the grounds for the use of such measures.

The Report also insists on expanding the possibilities for civil control through the mandatory inclusion of a person with legal education and a representative of a rights protection non-governmental organisation in the composition of the Commission for Supervision of the Implementation of Measures of Temporary Physical Restriction and streamlining the way of providing funding for all in-patient treatment facilities tying it to the quality of health service provided.

The Report also describes the most severe case of torture since the beginning of the Ombudsman’s term of office as the NPM. This is the fire in the Lovech State Psychiatric Hospital on 2 October 2023 when a patient died. The inspection of the Ombudsman there reveals a number of weaknesses in the system for the provision of quality psychiatric care and protection for those with mental disorder. For example, deficiencies in the regulatory framework and practices for the implementation of measures of temporary physical restriction of persons at state psychiatric hospitals, absence of effective control mechanisms on the part of state institutions as well as chronic problems with the quality of the psychiatric help provided due to the insufficient funding for it.

Another focus of the NPM Report is related to deficiencies regarding the rights of children in conflict with the law.

It is pointed out that every NPM Annual Report invariably sets out the recommendation to close down correctional boarding schools and to introduce contemporary and effective measures for working with child perpetrators which should include restorative justice and prevention work as well as the creation of a protective social system with a network of services (integrated services and educational, psycho-social and protective measures and support mechanisms) with respect to the children in conflict with the law.

          In this regard, the Report describes that, in 2023, Ombudsman institutional teams from the NPM Directorate and the Rights of the Child Directorate carried out three joint inspections at correctional boarding schools (CBS) and social-pedagogical boarding schools (SPBS) to assess the absence or presence of progress in terms of the Third Thematic Report on the Rights of Children Placed in CBS or SPBS.

“As a result of the systemic pressure on the part of the Ombudsman, four boarding schools were closed down such as the one in Dragodanovo Village, Sliven Municipality. The number of the children placed in the other three dropped down to 88. Most children are the victims of the circumstances of their lives – poverty, absence of normal living conditions, separated parents and/or parents who are economic emigrants abroad. The state of the facilities is poor, regardless of the partial renovation works. The investment of resources (financial, technical and human) in the system of CBS and CPBS is inappropriate. The state bodies should focus their efforts entirely on the swift closing down of these institutions and the creation of a protective social system which includes a network of services (integrated services and educational, psycho-social and protective measures and support mechanisms) with respect to the children in conflict with the law,” the Report also notes.

It recalls that the Third Thematic Report on the Rights of Children Placed in CBS or SPBS finds a number of chronic deficiencies such as the fact that CBS and SPBS do not comply with the international standards because they have the so-called “barrack-type buildings” with common rooms for sleeping, bathrooms, toilets. The children placed there do not only lack access to quality education and medical care but are also unable to have their relatives visit them due to the remoteness of the institutions and the lack of money. Furthermore, the correctional measures exhibit the characteristics of criminal repression, i.e. their correctional effect lies in imposing a sanction or a restriction. It is also established that there is no follow-up periodic judicial control or legal aid for the children placed there in relation to the correctional measures imposed on them.

The other problems highlighted include the fact that the applicable legislation does not allow for minors and underage persons placed in a correctional boarding school to turn to judicial authorities to request a review of their detention. As well as the fact that Bulgaria’s domestic legislation does not provide for a periodic and automatic check with respect to the detention being reviewed.

The Ombudsman’s Eleventh Report as the NMP yet again emphasizes the need to adopt a national policy and strategy for juvenile justice in the long term. It also emphasizes that the state bodies should focus their efforts entirely on the swift closing down of the institutions for children in conflict with the law and the creation of a protective social system which includes a network of services (integrated services and educational, psycho-social and protective measures and support mechanisms) with respect to these children.

“Also relevant continues to be the recommendation to take effective legislative action to transpose Directive (EU) 2016/800 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings into the Criminal Procedure Code,” the Ombudsman further points out.

In 2023, the NPM carried out a total of 3 planned and 11 surprise inspections at social institutions for children and adults.

The Ombudsman again recommends speeding up the process of deinstitutionalization of the care for adults because the lengthy stay of persons with disabilities in institutions violates fundamental human rights and the homes themselves may be deemed to be places for deprivation of liberty.

The report lists another disturbing fact – the existence of seven institutions with a capacity exceeding 100 persons (one with 228) located at a great distance from municipal centres and hospitals, having no specialists to provide care.

“Currently, only 9 homes for persons with mental disabilities, psychological disorders and dementia have been closed down. Once again we note that the homes do not comply with any criteria for the provision of a quality social service to persons with disabilities. The treatment of the persons placed there and their stay are not only poor and degrading; they violate their fundamental human rights,” the Report notes. Namely, the right to free movement and contacts with the outside world; to quality psychological and medical care; to personal space and quality sanitary and living conditions; to individual care.

The Ombudsman yet again finds the obvious lack of will or vision to move the residential care services to the community. Instead, the opposite trend can be seen – the facilities in these institutions remain the same, they are at a great distance from the municipal centre, the associated infrastructure is often modified with minimal funds to create protected homes and family-type accommodation centres. This results in the practice that the new services are, in fact, located in the same building or in the yard of the respective residential service.

The Report also highlights that the trend of a large number of inspections at the places for serving punishments at the Ministry of Justice continued in 2023 as well.

“The report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) based on its eighth visit to Bulgaria was published in the end of October 2022. As current and essential issues the CPT lists those related to violence among prisoners, the unsatisfactory conditions in prisons and detention centres in the country, the mass presence of bedbugs and cockroaches, as well as the lack of meaningful and constructive activities for the persons deprived of liberty. The above findings are also confirmed by the inspections carried out by the Ombudsman in the capacity of NPM in 2023 which shows the continuing need to reform the criminal policy in the penitentiary system,” the Report explains.

The Report emphasizes that the general critical finding in this sector continues to be the absence of an effective solution to several main problems, namely the systemic deficiencies in the medical services for the persons deprived of liberty; the continuing issues with old bed linen; the unresolved issues with bedbugs, cockroaches and other pests in the places for deprivation of liberty; and others. 

Another focus on the Report is the protection of the rights of persons detained at accommodation places at the Ministry of the Interior. In 2023, the inspections covered a total of 2,509 such persons.

The implementation of the recommendations given in 2022 in relation to the rights of minors and underage persons and persons who seek, or have been refused, international protection was also checked.

In 2023, the Ombudsman carried out inspections of four premises for placement of detainees in the system of the Ministry of the Interior. It was found that the material and living conditions continued to be poor, with little access to daylight and with obsolete material facilities.

In 2023, in the capacity of the NPM, the Ombudsman again carried out inspections at centres for temporary accommodation of foreigners at the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) with the Council of Ministers. Each inspection focused on assessing the living conditions of unaccompanied minors and underage persons and the forms of support provided.

The inspections found that, in 2023, according to SAR statistics, 5,702 applications for international protection were lodged by unaccompanied minors and underage persons. Of them, 3,843 by unaccompanied children and 1,416 by minors. In 2023, 49 unaccompanied children were placed in social service centres.

“It is also alarming that, quite often, the unaccompanied children disappear from the open-type accommodation centres of the SAR with the CoM within a week or two as they continue their way to Western Europe in organised and expensive illegal refugee channels,” the Ombudsman emphasises in the Annual Report.

The Ombudsman also draws attention to the fact that the inspections in 2023 found a growing number of unaccompanied minors and underage persons in the situation of unresolved critical problems. For example, a recommendation of the Ombudsman from 2022 has not been implemented and the Harmanli Reception and Admission Centre still does not have a safe zone for unaccompanied minors and underage persons seeking international protection. Still valid is the recommendation to introduce a systemic policy for protection and integration of underage unaccompanied persons. The Ombudsman notes that it is necessary to assess the possible measures to ensure protection and support for unaccompanied underage persons who have obtained a status through integration in the community also in the event of stated unwillingness to be placed in a residential social service.

In 2023, the Ombudsman monitored the implementation of 33 involuntary administrative measures related to the return to the country of origin, a transit country or a third country and expulsion.

The monitoring teams found systemic problems in the checks of the personal files of foreigners – continuing practice not to compile the complete documentation, especially with respect to appeals against orders imposing involuntary administrative measures; absence of evidence that the foreign citizens are familiar with the content of the orders imposing involuntary administrative measures issued for them and with the right to appeal against one under the Administrative Procedure Code; absence of evidence that the foreign citizens placed at a special centre for the temporary accommodation of foreigners are familiar with the right to receive legal aid and that they have met with lawyers who advised them and familiarised them with their rights and legal options; and others.

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Die Tagung der Vorsitzenden und stellvertretenden Vorsitzenden der Petitionsausschüsse des Bundes und der Länder wird im Jahr 2024 am Sonntag, den 22. September, und am Montag, den 23. September

Date of article: 05/03/2024

Daily News of: 05/03/2024

Country:  Germany

Author: Federal Committee on Petitions of Germany

Article language: de

Die Tagung der Vorsitzenden und stellvertretenden Vorsitzenden der Petitionsausschüsse des Bundes und der Länder wird im Jahr 2024 am Sonntag, den 22. September, und am Montag, den 23. September, in Bremen stattfinden. Traditionsgemäß nehmen hieran auch Bürgerbeauftragte und Ombudspersonen aus dem benachbarten Ausland teil. Die Konferenzsprache ist Deutsch.

(...)

Am 23. September 2024 findet die Tagung in der Bremischen Bürgerschaft statt. Sie soll wie gewohnt allen Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmern die Möglichkeit zum Austausch über neue Entwicklungen im Petitionswesen und Themen von übergreifendem Interesse geben.
Das Mittagessen während der Tagung findet auf Einladung der Bremischen Bürgerschaft  (voraussichtliches Restaurant: LUV, Schlachte 15-18) statt.
Das Ende der Tagung ist ca. 17:30 Uhr.

Arite Rochlitz ist Ihr Ansprechpartner.

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Link to the Ombudsman Daily News archives from 2002 to 20 October 2011