News from the Ombudsman’s Office: April 2023
On Thursday, 20 April, Ombudsman Juris Jansons informed members of the Saeima about the 2022 Annual Report. The Ombudsman in his report to the MPs stressed current and long-standing problems regarding children’s rights, social, economic and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.
The Ombudsman viewed a case, where Ropaži municipality had refused to provide information to a person on the justification of the tree felling permit. The local government believes that these permits are restricted access information, but the Ombudsman does not agree with this. Information on the environment, including the tree felling permits issued, is generally available, and must be provided without delay and without any obligation of the person requesting that information to justify the necessity. The Ombudsman calls on Ropaži municipality to comply with the principles of good governance, to apologise to the person, as well as to change the practice of providing environmental information.
The Ombudsman received a question from a resident of Riga asking whether the local government may refuse to apply a tax discount if the person has not created an e-address or has not consented to communication with the local government via e-mail. Yes, the municipality may refuse to apply such discount, since the resident was obliged to indicate other channels of communication. For example, communication may take place via mail if there is an objective reason for that.
On 4 April 2023, the President of Latvia Egils Levits and the Chapter of Orders in accordance with Section 30 of the Law on State Awards decided to award the Cross of Recognition and appoint Mrs. Ineta Piļāne, Deputy Ombudsman, Head of the Civil and Political Rights Division, the Commander of the Cross of Recognition.
In the information campaign “Nationality is an opportunity. Roma – one of us’ the Ombudsman stressed that regardless of nationality a person has the same needs. The campaign shows Roma people who have reached their goals and personal growth. At the same time, we have also identified the circumstances that affect the chances of achieving hopes and dreams.
The information received during the campaign “How is life in a nursing home?” shows that the situation in nursing homes is alarming and often inappropriate and undignified. The responsiveness of the society was high – the Ombudsman’s Office received altogether 113 messages, calls and e-mails. Information was received about 65 nursing homes. Over the years, the representatives of the Office have visited several of the reported institutions.
With the help of this video – “Karlis’ story” – we try to explain how important it is for people with mental disorders to live a full and dignified life. They need to receive community-based services, and not to continue living in long-term social care centres. The video has been adapted from the Croatian Office of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities.