What future holds for the Ombudsman?

What future holds for the Ombudsman?

Juan Carlos Véliz M. / Page Seven Plus

The lack of independence and submission to the political power of the Ombudsman are part of an “institutional degeneration” of the State, defines the columnist and member of the Urban Collective for Change (CUECA) of Cochabamba, Rafael Puente.

The lawyer Julieta Montaño considers that processes for breach of duties are appropriate because the defenders did not comply with the mandates established in the Constitution and the Law of the Ombudsman.

“You have to see to what extent the Ombudsman honors what the law and the Constitution establish for the Ombudsman, whether it is fulfilled or not. I was of the opinion that it is necessary to investigate and as in the (Marco) Aramayo case, the Ombudsman should be prosecuted for breach of duties, regardless of what should be done with the prosecutors and judges”, he affirms.

“The rule states that the reason for the existence of the Ombudsman is to defend the human rights of all people, regardless of political color, religion, ideology, etc., and that the Ombudsman has not fulfilled particularly in the Aramayo case. Nor have any investigations been carried out in the case of Mr. Backovic, nothing was done. The authorities have not been called to the attention of the Eurochronos case in which a young lady and another person have been murdered on sight and patience”, reinforces Montaño.

The Ombudsman defended her work and rejected the criticism of those who point to her as a “defender of the MAS” or “of the Government”, in statements to other media; however, she did not accept an interview to evaluate her management and to address the criticism against her, but she excused herself by claiming that she had “several pending due to the closure of management.”

What is the advantage of an independent Ombudsman? “With an independent Ombudsman, power is obliged to moderate all the arrogant abusive tendencies that it has, that normally the exercise of power always tends to exceed, and the Ombudsman is a kind of brake for that, but if the Ombudsman is puts in the public posture that applauds power, we are lost; for that, it is better not to have to spend 350 million in 10 years”, says the lawyer specializing in human rights.

Rafael Puente believes that the institution no longer has the prestige it had when it began operating with Ana María Romero de Campero and that is why now the applicants “fought” for the position.

In the recent process there were 198 registered applicants, including the current Ombudsman, former MAS deputies and militants such as the neighborhood leader Jesús Vera, accused of leading the burning of the 66 PumaKatari buses in November 2019.

“Little by little, the position began to be contested for more or less political positions linked to or sponsored by some party and it was losing strength, prestige and the ability to influence society. Today the Ombudsman’s Office -I dare to say- does not play any relevant role in the public life of our country”, said Puente.

“The institution is not necessarily in disrepute but without the prestige it used to have. Most of the population is not concerned about who could be the new Ombudsman and we are doomed to have that position occupied by someone who has more influence, more partisan support or more advantages for one or the other” he warned.

He regretted that the position for which Romero de Campero did not have to fight with anyone in 1998 is now so coveted. “They fight to be candidates for Ombudsman because it becomes a source of prestige, hope, capacity, influence and, ultimately, economic advantages; That’s why I don’t see any prospects for it (…) it is the beginning of an inevitable weakening of that function and institution”.

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