“Light, not a shadow on the human rights” is the motto of the institution called the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria or, to put it another way, the Human Advocate with a duty to protect the citizens guaranteed by law.
A group of people with disabilities who spend most of their lives in the shadows, not because of unnecessary modesty or unclean affairs, but because of the “caring” measures of protection and security of the state and municipality to them, have decided to give themselves another chance, not to be tempted by conciliatory obedience, and despite the innocuous experience they have in defending their human rights, to make another effort and turn to the “light” in the face of the National Ombudsman.
The occasion – the afflicted, won and non-beaten Ordinance for the provision of the social service “Assistant for Independent Living” /AIL/, adopted by the Sofia City Council in mid-2007. After the epistolary saga, which was announced in content but not in substance duration finale between the municipal administration and people with disabilities who are beneficiaries of the AIL, it was time for the national public defender to become aware of the contradictions in the Ordinance and the inhumane practices that have become necessary in the lives of the people by it. The letter, backed by dozens of angry and humiliated people, not only informed but also urged the Ombudsman to use all his powers conferred on him by the law as an institution, to oppose bad administrative practices and to protect people’s rights, sparking public debate through present arguments in the communication between the authorities and the citizens.
What happened? An Ombudsman’s reply, which did not surprise anyone. Unfortunately, severe bitterness as well. Because instead of rejoicing in the sensation “power in the face of the public advocate heard the citizens”, we with the wisdom of the rehearsed, find that “we have watched this movie already”. Well, the expectation of providing the necessary assistance did not happen … this time. It is commendable that Mr. Ombudsman, or rather his associates, have done their best to get a closer look at the Independent Living Assistant Social Service Ordinance. The reply to the letter shows that the Ordinance was read with diligence and skill, since 90% of it was copied excerpts with entire texts from the normative document. Not a word, no mystery, even to express understanding and critical thinking about the problem, to initiate actions or to help bring about change. Mr. Ombudsman himself in his welcoming remarks to the citizens on his website said: “I will not be tired of quoting Art. 6 of the EU Treaty, which proclaims the human rights as a fundamental value of the common European home. ” And again: “For the first time, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU includes the right to good administration and good administrative services as a fundamental right of citizens …. Because an administrative action can be completely legal and nonetheless a manifestation of bad administration. ” Isn’t this an universal rule and value that applies to everyone? Judging by the reply of the letter, some citizens are obviously more citizens than others for whom these rights are not valid.
However, we thank the Public Advocate and his associates for helping us to negotiate the ordinance in detail. It will certainly help us in the days and months to come.
And where do we go now?