The joint declaration was initiated by Polish Ombudsman Marcin Wiącek as this year's host of the annual meeting of V4 ombudsmen. Ombuds institutions in all four countries have experienced the gradual broadening of their mandate and competences. For example, the Slovak Ombudsman is currently beginning to oversee the rights of people restricted in their personal freedom. In the Czech Republic, the forthcoming amendment to the Ombudsman Act includes the establishment of a children's ombudsman and foresees that the ombudsman would also exercise the mandate of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).
„The public authorities primarily responsible for the budgets of the ombuds institutions must consider that assigning new responsibilities to our institutions without a corresponding increase in resources significantly impedes our ability to provide effective assistance to individuals in need,“ said the ombudsmen from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia and Czech Deputy Ombudsman Vít Alexander Schorm in a joint statement.
They also reaffirmed their commitment to protect human and civil rights and freedoms in accordance with their constitutions and national laws as well as international law. They consider raising public awareness of human rights to be an important part of their work.
„It is with satisfaction that we observe the ombuds being recognized by the public as organizations with the necessary expertise and recognition, such that national lawmakers consider us capable of undertaking these new responsibilities. Simultaneously, we are fully aware of the obligations that accompany these added responsibilities,“ the representatives of the ombuds institutions said in their declaration.
During the conference in Wrocław and Svidnica, they focused mainly on the areas of equal treatment and prevention of torture, as well as on the relationship between ombuds institutions and the judiciary. For example, Czech Deputy Ombudsman Vít Alexander Schorm described the difficulties caused by the lack of forensic experts. According to the Polish Ombudsman, the Polish judiciary faces similar problems. The next V4 ombuds meeting will take place in Slovakia next year.