The Office of the Ombudsman becomes an Associate Member of ENNHRI

From left to right: Ms Sirpa Rautio, ENNHRI Chair and Finnish Human Rights Centre, Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon, Parliamentary Ombudsman of Malta, and Ms Debbie Kohner, Secretary General of ENNHRI

The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) board has officially accepted the Office of the Ombudsman in Malta application for Associate Member status of the network. This marks the first stage of the Office of the Ombudsman joining ENNHRI.

The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions is an essential organisation that unites over 40 national human rights institutions across Europe. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights throughout Europe. It provides a collaborative platform for NHRIs, fostering solidarity and collective action to defend human rights and relative challenges, therefore serving as a unified voice at the European level.

The decision to become a member of ENNHRI forms part of the ongoing efforts by the Ombudsman to broaden its mandate to encompass the protection and promotion of human rights, aiming for the attainment of an NHRI with ‘A’ status.

Malta is one of the four remaining European Union member states without a National Human Rights Institution. Also, Malta is one of ten of the forty-six members of the Council of Europe that do not have an NHRI.

During a productive meeting with ENNHRI’s Secretary General, Ms Debbie Kohner, Parliamentary Ombudsman Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon outlined the proactive measures proposed by the Office of the Ombudsman in Malta as a practical solution for establishing a National Human Rights Institution. The pursuit of Associate Membership within ENNHRI was intended to emphasise the unique capacity and potential of the institution to fulfil the role of an NHRI within Malta.

This strategic initiative aims to bolster the role of the Ombudsman in defending and promoting fundamental human rights in Malta. Membership will facilitate deeper integration into the network, encouraging the exchange of information and best practices and enabling collaborative efforts to tackle current human rights challenges.

The Office of the Ombudsman eagerly anticipates exchanging knowledge and best practices with other NHRIs, contributing to capacity-building activities. This engagement is crucial for supporting NHRIs in meeting the UN Paris Principles’ compliance, particularly during their establishment and accreditation and in challenging times. Furthermore, ENNHRI plays a pivotal role in connecting NHRIs with European institutions, boosting their participation in regional mechanisms, increasing their visibility, and advocating on regional legal and policy developments.

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