Anyone holding that a public authority or service has violated his/her rights in any way can address the Provincial Ombudsman.
Heirs, caretakers or authorized representatives of people whose rights have been violated can also address the institution. NGOs, civic associations or other community organizations are also welcome to address the Provincial Ombudsman on behalf of people whose rights have been violated.
People in institutional confinement have the right to file a complaint in a sealed envelope. The employees in institutions confining people are bound to send their complaints to the ombudsman without opening the envelope or delay.
The Provincial Ombudsman Proceedings
Once someone has addressed the Provincial Ombudsman (in person, by mail or electronically) it will be considered whether the complaint falls under the institutional jurisdiction. If it does not, as well as if the violation or the last legal act in the matter is over a year old, the complainant will be given an advice how to proceed in order to resolve his/her problem.
If the complaint falls within the mandate of the Provincial Ombudsman, the proceedings with the institution will be initiated within 30 days from the day the complaint has been filed. Ideally, the reply of the authority or public service complained about will have arrived within 15 days. The complainant is meanwhile informed about the receipt of the complaint, the start of the proceedings and the deadlines.
Should the complainant ask for anonymity in the proceedings, the Provincial Ombudsman is bound to treat his/her personal data as confidential. The institution has broad authority concerning investigation procedures and access to places and data, including those treated as a business or professional secret.
If it is established during the investigation that there was no human rights violation or misconduct, or that it has been corrected or eliminated during the ongoing proceedings, the Provincial Ombudsman can also decide to stop further proceedings. This decision is also communicated both to the complainant and the public authority it relates to.
If there was a human rights violation or professional misconduct on behalf of the public authorities or services, the Provincial Ombudsman issues an Opinion or a Recommendation on how to rectify or eliminate the violation, misconduct and its consequences. This document is also communicated both to the complainant and the public authority it relates to. The authority in question then has 15 days to inform the Provincial Ombudsman about the measures it is going to undertake.
The Provincial Ombudsman can also act by his own authority (ex officio) if the institution holds that there might (have) be(en) some human rights violations committed by public authorities and services.
When Is It that the Provincial Ombudsman Cannot Intervene?
If citizens need assistance with composing written correspondence of legal nature or legal representation (before a court or a public authority), they should address the local self-government legal aid services or lawyers.
The Provincial Ombudsman, or any other authority, has no jurisdiction over the judiciary and cannot act if citizens are dissatisfied with its work (e.g. that of the courts and public prosecutors’ offices).
If the complaint is employment related, the citizens should address the Employment Inspection first. Should this inspection fail to do its work, then the citizens can address the Provincial Ombudsman.
If the complaint concerns other individuals, such as in interpersonal disputes, or private companies, citizens should address other instances (e.g. a mediator or lawyer, the court, the police, etc.).