New Zealand Law Society - Global ombudsman head calls for unity to protect human rights

Global ombudsman head calls for unity to protect human rights

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The President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) Peter Tyndall, told the 30th Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region (APOR) conference in Auckland that integrity institutions must work together, now more than ever, to help curb the current erosion of human rights.

During the conference, Chief Ombudsman New Zealand, Peter Boshier, was elected as APOR president, effective from 1 April 2019, taking over from the Hong Kong Ombudsman, Connie Lau. He said he would endeavour to continue Ms Lau’s active role in developing links with regional and international bodies to ensure that the work of Ombudsman Offices is understood, valued and protected.

Mr Tyndall expressed concern at the erosion of human rights globally.

“In many parts of the world we have witnessed the rise of populism, a legitimisation of xenophobia, a reduction in respect for the rule of law, endemic corruption and an erosion of human rights,” Mr Tyndall said.

He said that having the Ombudsman recognised as a fundamental component of democratic accountability, something every state should have, is an important aspiration of the IOI.

“While many Ombudsman offices have an explicit human rights jurisdiction, those of us with a more traditional mandate still have a key role to play in vindicating people’s rights and need to take a human rights based approach to our work. We need to work even more closely together to ensure people can access the services they need and are treated fairly by their Government.”

APOR is the regional arm of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), the global organisation for the cooperation of more than 180 independent integrity institutions worldwide.

Over 70 delegates and support staff attended the conference in Auckland on 28-29 November 2018, focusing on ‘Holding governments to account in a changing climate’.

Day two of the conference was dedicated to training regarding the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and the setting up of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM) to monitor places of detention and deprivation of liberty.