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Commissario per i Diritti Umani

 

Commissario per i Diritti Umani

THE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe is an independent institution that promotes the awareness and the respect for human rights in the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. It is a body that had been set up on May 1999 in consequence of a resolution of the Committee of Ministers, which put into practice the above steps taken in 1997 by the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, at the Second Strasbourg Meeting.

The objectives of the Commissioner, as set out in Resolution 50, are the following: promoting respect for human rights, education / awareness of human rights among the members of the Council Europe, the contribution to the full and effective enjoyment of human rights, the identification of any shortcoming in legislation or practices on human rights, the facilitation of the work of organizations mediators and other national structures for human rights, the facilitation of communications and information on human rights in the European regions. The Commissioner is a non-judicial power; although he cannot investigate individual complaints, he can draw conclusions and further steps on the basis of reliable information in the context of human rights violations suffered by individuals.

The activities of the Commissioner for Human Rights can be divided into three areas:

  • Dialogue with governments and institutional visits: the Commissioner maintains a permanent communication channel with the Member States of the Council of Europe, in order to obtain a comprehensive assessment on the local situation of human rights. The missions undertaken in these countries include meetings with representatives of local institutions, and key-members of civil society; at the end of these visits, specific reports are produced on issues relating to human rights, in which there are detailed recommendations on the matter. Thereafter, those reports are submitted to the Committee of Ministers and to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and finally are published. The official mission in a country is followed by a second visit after a few years, in order to let the Commissioner review progress made by the State in carrying out recommendations. This additional visit also gives rise to a supplementary report. The Commissioner can also pay contact visits for the sole purpose of strengthening relations with local authorities, without be obliged to draw any report on it.

 

  • Recommendations issues and raising awareness: the Commissioner, on its own initiative or behind request of national authorities, give its opinion on draft legislation and specific activities related to human rights, offering also advice and information on that issue. The Commissioner may prepare general recommendations within a specific topic related to human rights, if deemed necessary. Finally, the Commissioner promotes awareness of human rights in the Member States of the Council of Europe; for this purpose, he organizes seminars and events concerning various issues on this subject, promoting an ongoing dialogue with governments, civil society organizations, and educational institutions.

 

  • Promotion of national structures for the protection of human rights: the Commissioner is working closely with national ombudsmen and mediators of the European Union, national institutions for human rights and other bodies charged with protecting human rights. The Commissioner also organizes roundtable every two years with the mediators and national institutions for human rights, supporting the creation and the operation of it where none exist.

The current Commissioner is Nils Muiznieks, from Latvia, who began his six-year term on 1 April 2012 succeeding Thomas Hammarberg.


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