The Role of Ombudsperson Institutions

In the 200 years of its history, the ombudsman institution has demonstrated its value for both developing and mature democracies. The ombudsperson institution is not the primary instrument to fight corruption as a criminal activity. However, if properly designed, supported by strong political will and equipped with experienced and motivated staff, the ombuds office can be an effective instrument within a strategy of preventing, neutralising and eradicating corruption in defence.

The Ombudsman Function in Defence

In its modern interpretation, the primary function of the ombudsman is “to protect the people against violation of rights, abuse of powers, error, negligence, unfair decisions and maladministration in order to improve public administration and make the government’s actions more open and the government and its servants more accountable to members of the public.” The essence of this explanation, as embraced by mature democracies, is that the ombudsperson is independent from the organisation subject to peoples’ complaints. Hence, the ombuds institution is created by law; the ombudsperson is appointed by the legislature and serves as its agent. One of the supporting arguments is that such an arrangement helps guarantee the independence of the ombudsman, who might otherwise be reluctant to criticize the actions of agencies that are responsible to the executive. As part of the legislative branch of government, the ombudsman is not only providing a direct service to citizens, but also performs a role in the legislative oversight of the agencies under the ombudsman’s jurisdiction. Since the ombudsman may only make recommendations, and may not compel the executive and judicial agencies to take substantive actions, his or her role is consistent with the concept of separation of powers.

   ... For the full text of the chapter see the accompanying file.


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