On Human Rights Day, appeal for personal responsibility

Ljubljana – As Slovenia joins observation of Human Rights Day on Friday, the country’s human rights ombudsman pointed to the inequalities and distrust reinforced by the pandemic, appealing to everyone to do their bit for society to exist this crisis. The justice minister stressed the importance of human rights for a more resilient society.

Minister Marjan Dikaučič said in his message that respect and implementation of human rights demanded constant attention, efforts and raising of awareness.

Equality and non-discrimination are crucial for dealing with the biggest challenges of modern times, he said, noting that societies that protected and encouraged human rights for all were more resilient and better equipped for dealing with unexpected crises.

In his message on the occasion, Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina noted that 73 years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights and basic fundamental freedoms were tested more than ever before.

Noting how Slovenia had fostered and enhanced human rights prior to the onslaught of Covid-19, he said the pandemic had “deepened the distress of many, heightened inequality, sparked intolerance and increased distrust among us”.

He thus appealed to personal responsibility and genuine efforts to protect the dignity of everyone, noting that the individual’s right and freedom was always limited with the other’s right and freedom.

“As we are facing the threat of the health system’s collapse and data showing that more people have died than have been born,” he believes a more decisive action should be taken, starting with the top state authorities, which he says should set an example.

Calling for protection of the most vulnerable as the only way for society to recover, he said everyone could contribute by getting vaccinated, tested, through social distancing, respectful communication, refraining from attacks on different minded, constructive debate, respect for the law and court decisions, experts and independent institutions.

“Social rules are put to test in the new circumstances and it is thus especially important to respect the decisions of the bodies that judge which rules should apply in society so that the dignity of everyone will be respected and their rights and basic freedoms realised,” Svetina wrote in the message.

“Just like a healthy organism depends on its immunity system, a society can be healthy only if its immune system works well – its active civilian society, independent oversight institutions, free and independent media, autonomous academia and other active members of society.”

Equality is the global theme of this year’s Human Rights Day. On the occasion Svetina was received by President Borut Pahor, with the pair highlighting the importance of human rights protection as well as individuals’ responsibility for the overcoming of the health crisis.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič received representatives of trade unions, with the meeting calling for fair working conditions in the gig economy.

The Justice Ministry noted today that at the end of 2014, Slovenia has over 300 unimplemented rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, while this year only three remained unimplemented, which put Slovenia among the top Council of Europe countries in this respect.

It noted that Slovenia had been promoting human rights also during its EU presidency, as one of its priorities had been the protection of fundamental rights in light of the challenges brought about by new internet technologies and artificial intelligence.