Meeting of the Ombudsmen of the Visegrád Four countries in Brno, Czechia
The annual meeting of the Ombudsmen of the Visegrád Four countries is a tradition that goes back many years. The Ombdsman institutions of the V4 countries take turns in organizing and hosting this annual event. At the meeting held in Brno, Czechia, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights was represented by Deputy Commissioners Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay and Dr. Gyula Bándi, as well as Legal Expert Tímea Csikós.
Besides coordinating the current issues concerning the individual activities performed by the Ombudsmen, a topic that is of interest to each participant is always discussed at the annual professional meetings. This year, the meeting was focused on the issue of persons with disabilities. The situation is that the Ombudsmen of the Visegrád Four countries are basically faced with the same issues and challenges concerning disability matters, they pursue similar activities, while the methods available to them and the frameworks of their work are partially different.
The discussion of the possible ways for persons with disabilities to enforce their rights, the frameworks of the competences and roles of the Ombudsmen, their relations to civil society organizations, family members and other supporters, the opportunities available to the latter, as well as the difficulties, challenges and best practices, has revealed problems that are present in all the four countries. This is how, for example, the regulation of the training and use of assistance dogs has come to be discussed. The topic of the lack of barrier-free accessibility in public transport and other communal services was also touched upon. At this forum again, the Ombudsmen defined the need for the de-institutionalization of the care provided to the residents living in care homes with a high capacity. It was also a key topic how the strong prejudices against persons with disabilities can be eliminated and what the role of education may be in this effort.
The Ombudsmen of the four countries also issued a closing statement on the professional meeting held in Brno, which you can find here.