Ombudsman Welcomes The Venice Principles

On 2nd May 2019, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe endorsed the “Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution” (“The Venice Principles”). The 25 Principles were adopted by the Venice Commission on 15th March 2019 at its Plenary Session.

The Venice Commission is the European Commission for Democracy through Law. It is an advisory body of the Council of Europe, whose primary task is to assist and advise individual countries on constitutional matters in order to improve the functioning of democratic institutions and the protection of human rights.

The Venice Principles represent a set of internationally accepted standards for the proper functioning and independence of Public Services Ombudsmen.

In a recent press release issued by the Council of Europe, the importance of the role of Public Services Ombudsmen and the significance of the Venice Principles were explained, as follows:

“.....Ombudsmen are important for democracy, their services are free, and are thus accessible to individuals who cannot afford to pursue their complaints through the courts. They can take action independently against maladministration and alleged violations of human rights and hence play a crucial role with regard to the governments and parliaments which must accept criticism. As an interface between the administration and the citizens they are at times the first or the last resort to set a human rights violation straight.

Ombudsmen now have a unique international reference text listing the legal principles essential to their establishment and functioning in a democratic society. Drawn partly from a diversity of existing models in the world, the 25 principles are the most comprehensive checklist ever compiled...... They are meant to consolidate and empower ombudsmen institutions, which play a crucial role in strengthening democracy, the rule of law, good governance and the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman, Dilip Dayaram Tirathdas says he welcomes the Venice Principles and fully supports the implementation of these internationally accepted standards in Gibraltar.

The full text of the Venice Principles can be downloaded from the Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman’s website at www.ombudsman.org.gi