At the invitation of the Council of Europe, the National Ombudsman made a two-day visit to Strasbourg, where he took part in the international conference, “Freedom of expression: still a precondition for democracy?”. The visit also provided an opportunity to meet with several important European partners.
The National Ombudsman arrived in Strasbourg on Monday 12 October and was received by the Permanent Representation. A working lunch followed, attended by the European Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, and the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. They discussed how human rights influence the role and work of an ombudsman, and the added value that an Ombudsman can provide alongside a national human rights institute. A recurring topic was the recent influx of migrants into Europe.
The day concluded with a meeting with Jos Silvis, the Dutch judge of the European Court of Human Rights. Once again, the discussion centred on how human rights influence the role and work of the National Ombudsman. The Court was soon to consider whether ‘whole-life’ prison sentences violate human rights. Its ruling could well be significant for the Ombudsman. On the Tuesday, the National Ombudsman attended the conference, at which his counterparts from Serbia, Sweden, Greece and several other European member states were also present.