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Ms Sirpa Rautio appointed director of the Human Rights Centre

Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen today appointed Ms Sirpa Rautio as director of the Human Rights Centre, after having obtained an opinion from the Constitutional Law Committee. Her term of office is four years. Ms Rautio will take up her new post on 1 March 2012.

Ms Rautio, who was born in 1962 and has a Master of Laws degree, has been engaged in the field of constitutional and human rights since 1993. She is presently working in Washington in human rights tasks for the World Bank's Nordic Trust Fund, particularly as an expert in women's rights and equality.

In 2005-2010 Ms Rautio worked as an advisor to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in Strasbourg and as head of the human rights and equality office in the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.

In 2001-2004 she headed the Human Rights Section of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw, where she was responsible for setting up and managing the new section. Before that she worked in UN human rights tasks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she served as an advisor to UN Special Ambassador Elisabeth Rehn, and in Ethiopia and Eritrea. In Finland she has twice served as legal counsel for the Refugee Advice Centre.

Twenty-one applications were received for the post of director of the Human Rights Centre.

Independent body

The Human Rights Centre will be independent operationally, although administratively it will be part of the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. In addition to the director the centre will employ two experts.

In connection with the Human Rights Centre the Parliamentary Ombudsman will appoint a Human Rights Delegation comprising 20-40 members from various NGOs and other organizations in the field.

The Human Rights Centre - together with the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Human Rights Delegation - will be a body according to the Paris Principles approved by the UN. The statutory task of the Human Rights Centre is to promote information, training, education and research regarding constitutional and human rights, to conduct studies concerning the implementation of human rights and to present initiatives and statements to promote and implement constitutional and human rights. In addition the centre will participate in European and international cooperation aimed at promoting and protecting constitutional and human rights.

The Human Rights Centre will not handle complaints or individual cases, which fall within the scope of the supreme overseers of legality.

Additional information: Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen, tel. +358 9 4321 (Parliament's switchboard)