February 2022 News Summary
The European Network of Children’s Ombudsmen (ENOC), including the Office of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Latvia, calls for urgent action to protect children’s rights in Ukraine. ENOC expresses its deep concern about the safety and well-being of children currently suffering in the war in Ukraine.
Ombudsman Juris Jansons fully supports the ENOC statement and stresses that children and families with children have the right to life, safety and all other rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is our collective duty to make sure that these rights are respected and to actively protect the children who are in this horrible situation.
The Ombudsman has sent a letter to all Latvian local governments, reminding them of their obligation to ensure the rights of people with disabilities. The Ombudsman has received alarming information from the Association of Disabled Persons and their Friends “Apeirons” about the disinterested, bureaucratic, and formal attitude of several local governments when working towards ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities, such as access to or exit from their homes. Latvian and international law stipulates that respecting and ensuring the rights of people with disabilities is not optional for local governments, rather it is an obligation.
Local governments have been asked to provide answers to the Ombudsman’s questions by 11 March.
After a request by the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Health has reviewed the availability of medical rehabilitation services for children at the National Rehabilitation Centre “Vaivari”. The Ministry of Health has negotiated with the management of the NRC “Vaivari” and agreed that medical rehabilitation services will be provided also for children without vaccination or recovery certificates.
The Ombudsman stresses the need to distinguish between two essential mechanisms in the Latvian health care system – the Patients’ Ombud and Health Inspection. Both mechanisms are aimed at protecting the rights of the patient, but their nature differs. In the Ombudsman’s view, the tasks of the Patients’ Ombud would be education, research, support in the form of information on rights, consultation, mediation where necessary, but not punishment or provision of medical opinion.
On 4 February, the Ombudsman participated in an online discussion organised by the Ministry of Health ” In Focus: The Patient and Their Rights”. The specialists discussed informed consent for treatment, as well as patient autonomy in medical treatment in Latvia, they also reviewed examples of good practice in other countries and discussed solutions for meaningful communication between the doctor and the patient.
On 22 February, an online seminar and expert discussion “European Day for Victims of Crime 2022” organised by the Crisis and Advisory Centre “Skalbes” took place. The aim of the event was to inform the public about the support available for victims and to promote inter-institutional cooperation for the provision of assistance.
The seminar explored six themes: (1) domestic violence, (2) compensation for harm/reconciliation, (3) human rights, (4) work-based crime, (5) internet crime and 6) economic crime. Representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office participated in the seminar with presentations “Hate Speech on the Internet: Can It Be Prevented?” and “Trafficking of Human Beings in the Digital Environment and Cooperation Mechanisms.”