“The ombudsman is a parliamentary institution”
Today, at a regular meeting of the working group on the preliminary study to establish the post of commissioner for human rights in the Novosibirsk region, representatives of the deputies and of the public met with the Altai and Krasnoyarsk regional ombudsmen to learn from their experiences.
Novosibirk’s GOLOS branch was among the event’s participants. After the event, proposals will be generated in order to establish this institution in the Novosibirsk region.
Commissioners for human rights, Mark Gennadyevich Denisov (Krasnoyarsk region) and Yuri Aleksandrovich Visloguzov (Altai region) spoke with deputies of the Novosibirsk Legislative Assembly about their many years of experience and about methods of forming a structure such as the human rights commission. Up to this point, the Novosibirsk region has not formed this institution.
It needs to be noted that in international practice, the ombudsman is always independent from government control and funding.
The regions are structuring the roles of the commissioners on their own. The human rights commissioners shall contribute to the review and approval of the body of deputies personally. Therefore, Marc Denisov emphasized that the “ombudsman is a parliamentary institution.” The commission for human rights deputies will perform a variety of different functions: the commissioner for children’s rights, ombudsman for indigenous people, commissioner for the rights of prisoners, and so on. At the same time, experienced ombudsmen believe the commissioner should not serve business- or finance-related functions. It is believed that a narrow specialization in this matter can degrade the performance of the commissioner’s more important tasks.
The commissioner for human rights is autonomously structured, and can only be suspended in cases of incapacitation or criminal investigation. In the Krasnoyarsk region, the ombudsman consisted of 18 persons; in the Altai region, of 10 people. The ombudsman also has the right to appoint public assistants in the regions and representatives of universities and schools.
As is the case with any official, when taking office the commissioner will take an oath promising to “be guided by the law and the voice of justice.”
“The central functions of the ombudsman are those of control and legal education. The government also needs time to speak about the formation of the problems. The ombudsman has the opportunity to undertake unannounced visits to closed institutions, such as prisons and psychiatric hospitals,” says Yuri Visloguzov. Each year there are 3,000 appeals from these institutions—12% of cases. These are statistics of positive support.
The board of parliamentarians from neighboring regions advised against setting a comprehensive framework for the formulation of requirements for ombudsman candidates. The recommended only an age requirement: that the candidate must be at least 35 years of age.
Novosibirsk’s GOLOS branch will monitor the situation.