Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo releases joint recommendations of Regional Ombudsman Conference
The Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo released today the joint recommendations (see attached) produced by participants of the “Regional Ombudsman Conference: Support and Obstacles to the Protection of Human Rights”, which was held on 8th and 9th June 2007 in Prishtinë/Priština.
Hosted for the first time by the Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo with the support of the US Office in Prishtinë/Priština and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the conference brought ombudsman institutions from across southeastern Europe together with representatives of Kosovo’s local authorities, civil society groups and media.
Opening remarks were made by Acting Ombudsperson Mr. Hilmi Jashari, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo Ambassador Werner Wnendt, Kosovo President Mr. Fatmir Sejdiu and Minister for Justice Mr. Jonuz Salihaj.
Presentations were given, amongst others, by representatives of a number of ombudsman institutions, as well as the President of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and former Ombudsperson in Kosovo, Mr. Marek Antoni Nowicki, Chairman of the International Ombudsman Network (European Region) Mr. Peter Kostelka, and Ms. Irini Kitsou-Milonas, Legal Advisor to the Council of Europe’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner.
The conference was chaired by Mr. Paul Miller, Head of the Prishtinë/Priština Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner.
Given participants’ agreement that the event was such an overwhelming success, it is expected that this Regional Ombudsman Conference marks the first in what will be a significant addition to the annual calendars of the ombudsman institutions of the region, as well as those of Kosovo’s local authorities, civil society groups and media outlets.
Quotes taken from the conference:
“What concerns me most is that, more than a year after the new regulation was put into force, the Assembly has still not finalized the process of appointing the Ombudsperson. Although I know for a fact that it is not done on purpose, this situation illustrates that independent institutions, though vital for the democratic development of Kosovo, have not yet gained the level of respect they ought to command.”
- Ambassador Werner Wnendt, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo
Speaking about his time as Kosovo’s international Ombudsperson: “An Albanian man came into my office to present a complaint…Before he explained his case, he firstly said: ‘Since the time the [Ombudsperson] Institution came, we people do not feel alone anymore.’ I considered this as a motto for what I did. I hope also that it is and will be a motto for my successor—to make people not feel alone anymore!”
- Mr. Marek Antoni Nowicki, President of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and former Ombudsperson in Kosovo
“We find ourselves approaching a decision on the future of Kosovo…and after this decision our local institutions will be responsible for constructing the future of Kosovo. During this transition and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, the role of the Ombudsperson Institution as a human rights protection mechanism becomes even clearer…”
- Mr. Hilmi Jashari, Acting Ombudsperson in Kosovo
Talking about the partnership between the ombudsman and the media: “If a musician wants to get his melodies across to the audience in a huge concert hall, the strings [of his violin] will not be sufficient, so he will not only work with the classic musical instrument but also use an electronic amplifier. The same applies to the Ombudsman in his public activity—if he wants to achieve publicity with his arguments, his own voice will not be loud enough, and therefore he needs the media…”
- Mr. Peter Kostelka, Chairman of the International Ombudsman Network (European Region)
“The election of ombudsmen can be considered as the reflection of confidence of Parliament towards the candidates, and this is the beginning of a several-year relationship which is not exempt from conflicts either from time to time…”
- Mr. Barnabas Hajas, Representative of the Hungarian Ombudsman Institution