Philipsburg; The Ombudsman of Sint Maarten recently attended the annual meeting of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) Board of Directors held in Windhoek from 21 to 23 September 2015.
At the annual meeting of the IOI Board of Directors, held in Windhoek (Namibia) and generously hosted by the office of Namibia Ombudsman and IOI President John R. Walters, the Board looked at developments and achievements made in the past membership year and discussed projects and priorities for the year to come.
It was unanimously agreed that the IOI’s successful program of regional subsidies will again be made available to members for the membership year 2015/2016. Another focus of this year’s Board meeting were training initiatives for the upcoming membership year as well as a workshop to discuss the problem of Ombudsman facing difficult circumstances, reprisals or even threats and to establish ways for the IOI to support colleagues facing such times of crisis.
While earlier this year together with the Regional President of the Caribbean and Latin American region, Ms. Lynette Stephenson, the Ombudsman of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Arduin secured an Anti-corruption training for the region, a training sponsored by IOI for regional Ombudsmen and their staff to enhance case handling is in the planning for 2016.
The Board furthermore confirmed the Office of the Ombudsman of Thailand as the host of the 11th IOI World Conference, which will be held in Bangkok in November 2016. Despite some concern about the current political situation in Thailand, the Board reiterated its full support for the Office of the Ombudsman as it is seen as a fundamental building block in rebuilding democracy.
Attendance to the IOI Board meeting afforded Dr. Arduin the opportunity to directly consult with her colleagues from Belgium and Sweden, and discuss her concerns brought forward to the Constitutional Court regarding the National Ordinance on Integrity. Both the Ombudsman of Belgium and Sweden are charged with the mandate to investigate integrity breaches by public officials. The mandate of the Ombudsman of Sweden includes the authority to prosecute integrity breaches, which are deemed criminal offenses. Dr. Arduin recognizes that drawing on the expertise and experience of colleagues has been an added value in attending international Board meetings and conferences, while at the same time saving on high consultancy fees from the budget of the Ombudsman.