At a time when Europe’s basic values are being challenged in many different places and in many different ways, the institution of the ombudsman can become a target, notably when ombudsmen act with independence and determination.
Written by Andrew Cutting, EUobserver
In a true democracy, it is critical that governments can be properly held to account for their actions.
But who do you turn to if the authorities violate your basic human rights or if they simply fail to do their jobs properly?
One option is the courts.
However, this can be expensive and time-consuming. Taking a case to court requires legal assistance and often means following very formal procedures. Furthermore, public trust in the judiciary is not always high.
A simpler solution may be to seek the help of an ombudsman.
Ombudsmen exist in more than 140 states around the world, working at different levels – national, regional and local.
Their responsibilities may differ, but their main purpose is to look into complaints against the public authorities in cases of maladministration or violations of the basic rights of citizens or organisations.