Swedish Ombudsman suggests colleagues should be elected

KIGALI - The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden; Mats Melin has suggested that the Ombudsmen should be elected by Parliament, The New Times can reveal. While addressing a cross-section of Ombudsmen from Africa and several participants from Rwanda, Melin said that MPs were best placed to choose the Ombudsman because their job was initially to represent the interests of the masses.

KIGALI - The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden; Mats Melin has suggested that the Ombudsmen should be elected by Parliament, The New Times can reveal.

While addressing a cross-section of Ombudsmen from Africa and several participants from Rwanda, Melin said that MPs were best placed to choose the Ombudsman because their job was initially to represent the interests of the masses.

“We are discussing on the issue of whether Ombudsmen should be elected or appointed. Members of parliament are the best choice to elect the Ombudsman because initially, the core of their job is to represent the local community’s interests,” he said.

According to the Rwandan Constitution, the holder of the Ombudsman’s office is appointed by the President unlike in Sweden where they are nominated by the parliament.

Melin recognised the Ombudsman’s role in supporting democracy and the rule of law but also pointed out the process to build a concrete and productive Ombudsman’s office all depended on what he called “political maturity”.

“In 1809 when the Ombudsman’s office was set up, Sweden was a poor country and a non democratic state that was consistently at war with its neighbours. I can assure you that the Ombudsman’s office has contributed immensely to turning Sweden into a democratic state,” he said.

Melin also pointed out that back home; the Ombudsman has prosecution powers and exercises them where necessary.

The Swedish Ombudsman’s website states: “If an Ombudsman suspects that someone has made a serious mistake in his work, he or she can act as a prosecutor and take the person concerned to court”.

The first “Ombudsman” was established by the Swedish legislature in 1809 to respond to public complaints against government actions. Other countries using ombudsmen include Finland (1919), New Zealand (1962), and Britain (1967).

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