Standards of Ombudsman Assessment: A New Normative Concept?
17 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 12, 2013
Today, an ombudsman is a traditional component of democratic legal systems. Generally, reports of the ombudsman are not legally binding. Due to this fact, the ombudsman can rely only on his own persuasiveness, on his acceptance by individuals and state institutions, on the understanding of the administration and on the accessibility and transparency of rules that underpin his reports. During investigations, ombudsmen assess whether the administration has acted in accordance with certain legal or extra-legal standards. Depending on the legal system, ombudsmen can investigate whether there is an instance of maladministration in the activities of administrative bodies, whether the administration has acted ‘properly’, whether it has acted in accordance with the law, whether administrative actions have breached the human rights of complainants or whether the actions of the administration were in accordance with anti-corruption rules etc. Regardless of the legislative standard of an ombudsman’s control, the ombudsman should consider and assess the situation described in complaints against certain criteria or against certain normative standards. A distinct set of standards which ombudsmen use during their investigation, or at least a clear statement of their assessment criteria, can increase the transparency of their procedures and the persuasiveness of their reports. Are the normative standards used by different ombudsmen the same? Do they possibly create a new normative concept? And can it possibly lead to a higher acceptance of their reports by the administration?
Keywords: ombudsman, normative standards, law, good administration, human rights, development
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By Marc Hertogh