From 20-24 November 2017, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights welcomed a 10-person study visit delegation from the office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsperson) in Vienna. The visit took place within the framework of the on-going Twinning project “Strengthening the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights”, in which the BIM is the Austrian partner institution.
A wide range of Austrian stakeholders shared their expertise with the delegation on topics such as data protection, access to public information, non-discrimination and equal treatment. The Ukrainian delegation met with representatives from the Data Protection Authority, the Austrian Ombudsman Board, the Ombud for Equal Treatment, the Federal Equal Treatment Commission as well as with the Ombudsperson for Equal Treatment of Persons with Disabilities. In addition, BIM arranged expert meetings at the Federal Administrative Court, the Constitutional Court, the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. As human rights education was another priority area during the visit, the participants also had the opportunity to learn about the activities of polis – The Austrian Centre for Citizenship Education in Schools and the Human Rights Master of Arts programme at the University of Vienna.
The visitors have gained insights in various areas, notably cooperation of Ombud institutions with other stakeholders, procedures for complaints handling, interaction with courts and distribution of competences as well as generally getting to know the Austrian administrative and political framework.
With remarkably high interaction and interest shown by the Ukrainian delegation, the intensive programme was deemed very beneficial by the Head of the delegation and its members. As a result of this proactivity, meetings were rich in questions that stimulated debate about the working mechanisms of the Ukrainian Ombudsperson, its similarities with the Austrian system as well as the challenges when it comes to using good Austrian or EU practices in Ukraine.