The 8th Conference of the Association was held at Seoul, Republic of Korea from 26-29 April, 2004. The Conference was attended by 68 delegates from 25 countries. The main theme of the Conference was “The Ombudsman and the Strengthening of Civil Rights in Asia”. The Hon’ble Wafaqi Mohtasib, Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada, as the President of the AOA while welcoming the delegates of the Conference showed his confidence that both the formal deliberations of the Conference and the ‘Country Papers’ of the many delegates, and, just as importantly, the informal inter-action and exchange of views between them, will lead to a better mutual understanding of the problems confronting our countries in this regard and the measures being adopted to cope with them. Full text of the address is placed at Annex-A. The participants of the Conference deliberated upon the following issues relating to the Ombudsmanship in the context of their personal experiences:-
i. “The Government – Citizen Relationship: What do citizens expect from the Government? What do citizens expect of the Ombudsman?”
ii. “The Role of the Ombudsman in safeguarding Civil Rights” and
iii. “The Ombudsman and Citizen Participation”
Hon’ble Wafaqi Mohtasib, Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada, also read his Country Paper in the Conference on “The Role of the Ombudsman in safeguarding Civil Rights”. In his paper he highlighted the different aspects of Ombudsman’s role in safeguarding civil rights in the context of his own experience in Pakistan. While summarizing the Paper he stated that in so far as the Ombudsman of Pakistan is concerned the role that he plays in the safeguarding of ‘civil rights’, is to the extent of protection and promotion of the ‘right to good-governance’ by protecting individual citizens against abuse and ‘mal-administration’ by public authorities. The safeguarding of ‘civil rights’ as such in the traditional sense is essentially a function assigned to the judiciary by the Constitution in the context of ‘Fundamental Rights’.
The session of the General Assembly of the AOA was held on 29th April, 2004, during which the election of the Board of Directors of the Association was held and the following were elected as the new members of the Board:-
President: Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada, Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman), Pakistan.
Vice President: Mr. Simeon Macelo, National Ombudsman, Philippines.
Secretary: Ms. TAI Yuen-ying, Alice, Ombudsman, Hong Kong, SAR, People’s Republic of China.
Treasurer: Mr. Cho Young-Hoang, Chief Ombudsman, South Korea.
Members: Mr. Li Zhilun, Minister, Ministry of Supervision, People’s Republic of China.
Sayyid Ebrahim Ra’isee, Head, General Inspection Organization, Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mr. Masashi Tamura, Director-General, Administrative Evaluation Bureau, Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts & Telecommunications, Japan.
Mr. Cheong U, Commissioner Against Corruption, Macau, SAR, People’s Republic of China.
Datuk Haji Mahadi bin Haji Arshad, Director-General, Public Complaints Bureau, Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia.
The General Assembly also endorsed and ratified the ‘Recommendations’ made by the Board. The applications for the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Provincial Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Balochistan, Pakistan, for the Full membership of the AOA, were accepted. The Conference concluded with the remarks of gratitude to the Chief Ombudsman of Republic of Korea, in connection with the excellent arrangements of the Conference.