News from the Ombudsman’s Office: August 2023

Why judge the dress, not the actions of women?

In view of the hostile attitude towards women in publicly visible positions, the Ombudsman calls on everyone to evaluate their prejudices and how they unconsciously influence the ‘consumption’ of news and the perception of women’s public activities and reminds that there is criminal liability for gender-based hate speech.

Subjectively offensive information does not immediately mean hate speech

Using the criteria for assessing hate speech, the Ombudsman conducted an analysis of the Ukrainian artist group “TIGOIS project” poster saying “Pусский оккупант. Лучшее удобрение” (Eng. Russian Occupant. Best Fertiliser) in the exhibition of contemporary sculpture and paintings at the National Library of Latvia. The work is the reaction of the Ukrainian artist to the current Russian military aggression in Ukraine using the metaphor of art. Accordingly, it can be concluded that the aim of the authors was to draw public attention to the ongoing hostilities and to counter the violence perpetrated by the occupying forces in Ukraine.

Ombudsman’s research shows shortcomings in the acquisition of learning materials

The Ombudsman received almost 1300 messages on the purchase of learning materials from almost all regions of Latvia. Lists of learning materials are welcome as they provide clarity about necessary things and who buys them. It is essential that there is no obligation to purchase learning materials that should according to the law be provided by the educational institution rather than parents. The Ombudsman asked the local authorities and their educational institutions to review their lists of learning materials and, if necessary, to update them. By 16 August, the information received from 30 municipalities in Latvia.

The Ombudsman has received information that the Council of Salaspils Secondary School No. 1 has decided on learning materials that, according to the Education Law, are not provided by parents. The Ombudsman has asked Salaspils municipality to immediately ensure that Salaspils Secondary School No. 1 clarifies the information provided to students’ parents, considering children’s right to receive education free of charge.

Patient should be guaranteed the right to state-paid medicines also in atypical cases

The reimbursement mechanism for individual medicines needs to be improved. The Ombudsman therefore invites the Cabinet of Ministers to make amendments to the Cabinet Regulations by 31 October. This would make it possible for the National Health Service to ensure that people who, for individual and atypical reasons, require and for whom the use of certain medicinal products is strictly medically justifiable can receive reimbursement from the state.

Life in Rezekne Pensioner Social Services Centre is humiliating

The situation that the representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office, Ministry of Welfare and the Health Inspectorate identified in the on-site visit to the Social Service Centre supervised by the Social Service of Rezekne State Municipality confirms that there is an urgent need to find a solution on how to increase the qualification and remuneration of carers to attract knowledgeable and motivated employees. The Ombudsman calls on the local government and other responsible institutions to take immediate action to provide residents with living conditions that respect human dignity.