The national, human and non-governmental sector as well as the international community have come together to share their thoughts on human rights at the national event – National Human Rights Forum, which has already become a tradition and marked the International Human Rights Day. At the opening ceremony Augustinas Normantas, the head of the national human rights institution, also greeted the participants with the International Human Rights Day and wished that respect for human rights would not be a declaration but a reality.
“The Seimas Ombudsmen examine the applicants’ complaints, the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office is a national prevention institution and a national human rights institution. These mandates as a whole allow to strive for the observance of the principles of respect for human rights and freedoms and that the commitments undertaken by Lithuania in the field of human rights would not only be a declaration, but an integral part of every citizen’s daily and quality life. To that end, the Seimas Ombudsmen have conducted several investigations into fundamental human rights violations in recent years,” noted the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas.
When asked about the most significant investigations conducted by the Seimas Ombudsmen‘s Office, the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas emphasized that one of the most significant investigations was the review process of decisions declaring persons incapacitated, which aimed to ensure that the rights of incapacitated persons were not disproportionately restricted. The Seimas Ombudsman also recalled investigations aimed at drawing attention to the use of excessive force by officials against citizens and the flaws in the activities of the commissions of the Ministry of Health, which prevents ensuring proper implementation of patients’ rights.
“It is also worth mentioning the latest investigation, which drew the authorities’ attention to the need to pay particular attention to the principles of respect for human rights and freedoms in the management of a pandemic. Among other things, I would like to mention the investigation of national prevention of torture, which found that people with disabilities in care homes face a particularly high level of human rights violations due to the inadequate provision of care services. I am convinced that all these investigations basically defended the human rights violated by individuals or certain groups and contributed to the formation of a different practice,” emphasised the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas.
Vytautas Valentinavičius, the Head of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office, Doctor of Political Science at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), participated at the National Human Rights Forum discussion titled What is the Place of Human Rights in Lithuanian Politics? There was an exchange of views on human rights issues that should be addressed as well as what needs to be done to put human rights issues, that previously have not received the attention of political actors, on the political agenda.
This year the National Human Rights Forum was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with a moto Endorsing Diverse Lithuania in Europe. In this context, the public was also invited to discuss the impact of the pandemic on public mental health and education, fathers’ involvement in early childhood, effective response to hate crimes, human rights violations in Belarus, gender equality, data protection, the right to privacy and other relevant topics.