9 May 2016

XI 140 S20160503The year 2015 was not exceptional as for the number of complaints received by the Seimas Ombudsman; however, the Seimas Ombudsmen issued a record number of recommendations to the state and municipal authorities.

With these recommendations, the Seimas Ombudsmen Augustinas Normantas and Raimondas Šukys drew the attention of the officials towards the neglect of duties, breaches of laws and other legal acts, abuse of office, bureaucracy and other violations of human rights and freedoms.

During presentation of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Annual report for the year 2015 to the public, the Seimas Ombudsmen noted that the majority of complaints were received regarding the Ministries of Justice (480), Agriculture (252), and Interior (155) as well as institutions subordinate to them. However, the largest numbers of justified complaints were received concerning the Ministries of Health (40,5 percent) and Agriculture (37,5 percent) including institutions subordinate to them.

When speaking about the human rights violations in social care institutions the Seimas Ombudsmen underscored the lack of human attitude towards residents of social care institutions. In the opinion of the head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office “A major problem is lack of compassion”.

In 2015, The Seimas Ombudsmen visited 44 detention places and issued 189 recommendations.  The number of recommendations submitted to social care institutions amounted to 64; to the Foreigners’ registration centre and other facilities for foreigners – 14, to places of custody and premises of temporary detention – 30, to children social care facilities – 24, and to penitentiaries – 57.

When visiting detention places the Seimas Ombudsmen identified various problems related to human rights violations. In the opinion of the Seimas Ombudsmen, the safety of residents is not always properly ensured in social care institutions.

There is a necessity of hygiene and cleanness in some social care institutions. Moreover, not all agencies provide adequate care and services to individuals who are in need of such services.

When introducing the National Prevention of Torture, the Seimas Ombudsmen noted that this function considerably strengthened their role as human rights defenders, since the human rights monitoring has highlighted the human rights issues that have not been visible during investigation of complaints.

The Law on the Seimas Ombudsmen entitles the Seimas Ombudsmen to open investigations on their own initiative when the signs of the abuse of office, bureaucracy or other violations of human rights and freedoms by the officials are established from reports of mass media or other sources. In 2015, the Seimas Ombudsmen conducted 17 investigations on their own initiative.XI 140 S20160503 01

Following the resolution of the Seimas Committee on Human Rights, the Seimas Ombudsmen are actively involved in shaping the overall human rights concept, policies, and practices of the state in close cooperation with public authorities and other human rights organisations.

In 2015, the Seimas Ombudsmen also actively participated in the activity of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions and International Ombudsmen Institute as well as contributed to the resolution of human rights problems on the national and international levels. Finally, at the end of 2015, the Seimas Ombudsmen submitted an application to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to be accredited as the national human rights institution.

The Seimas Ombudsmen defend the human right to good public administration, which ensures human rights and freedoms, and oversees public authorities to ensure they comply with their duty to adequately serve the people. The Parliamentary Ombudsmen also carry out national prevention of torture at detention facilities under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.