As the world marks human rights day today, the Office of the Ombudsman reiterated its call for a national human rights institution that would ensure the implementation of international standards in Malta.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, and since then, the date has served to mark Human Right Day worldwide.

This year, an emphasis is being made on the rights of everyone – women, youth, minorities, disabled people, indigenous people, the poor and the marginalised – to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making. The Office of the Ombudsman is a constitutional authority tasked primarily with the defence of citizen rights in the field of public administration, and with upholding the rule of law in actions and decisions in the public service and in the public sector.

“This office has in the last few months suggested the time was ripe to set up a national human rights institution as a tangible confirmation of the national commitment in favour of respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” it said in a statement.

It will continue to promote this suggestion over the coming months. It said it welcomed the support of organisations that make up civil society, as well as non-profit institutions and people interested in citizens’ well-being, so that the proposal could gain ground and be implemented “sooner rather than later”.

The human rights NGO Aditus called on everyone to remember the ongoing international struggle for human rights.

“In Malta, this could be a moment taken to acknowledge the enjoyment of human rights conferred through, for example, citizenship, employment, education, freedom, the enjoyment of life during peacetime or, simply, a sense of belonging.

“As part of its mission to report on and redress human rights abuses, Aditus foundation hopes to inspire the agreement and cooperation of the Maltese public, Government and media in the crucial arena of human rights,” director Neil Falzon said.

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