Any person has the right to file a written appeal to the Ombudsman Office, if it observes a potential violation of their or other persons’ human rights or the principle of good administration.
Residents are also entitled to face-to-face consultation with the Ombudsman or Ombudsman Office staff on the subject of the violation of human rights or the principle of good administration.
You can submit an application to the Ombudsman in two ways:
- Electronically, signed with secure electronic signature;
- In free format, sent by mail or submitting it on the spot, in Ombudsman's Office.
It must be noted that State and municipal authorities have an obligation to accept only those electronic documents (sent by e-mail) from private individuals and legal entities that are signed with a secure electronic signature and timestamped. The Ombudsman is unable to consider applications submitted in the form of e-mail attachments. Therefore, the appealing person will have to arrive at the Ombudsman’s office to sign the appeal.
If a person wishes to see the Ombudsman or experts of the Ombudsman Office in person, it must make an appointment in advance by calling +371 67686768 or contacting the Ombudsman Office directly. Consultations by telephone are also available and it is possible to send inquiries to email@example.com.
Consideration of complaints by the Ombudsman Office is free of charge. The Ombudsman Office does not disclose information about the appealing person or other persons, if that is required for the protection of rights of these persons, except when this information is requested by the initiator of a criminal case.
Complaints addressed to the Ombudsman Office from persons carrying out military service, living in care and education homes or closed institutions and the Ombudsman’s replies are exempt from checks provided by regulations and are immediately delivered to the recipient.
By turning to the Ombudsman for protection of interests, the person should note that filing a complaint to the Ombudsman and initiation of an inspection case does not stop the function of regulatory enactment, court decision or other individual legal act and the advance of procedural terms provided for by the law. Therefore, use of alternative rights’ defence mechanisms (e.g., court) can become impossible.
Complaint investigation procedure
Procedure for registration and consideration of written complaints is governed by the Ombudsman Law and complaint investigation regulations. These documents provide that the Ombudsman takes a decision on the initiation or rejection (if the complaint does not contain information about the violation or it is not in the Ombudsman’s scope of competency) of an inspection case and announces the decision to the person within one month from the receipt of a written complaint.
Inspection case is carried out within three months. If a case is complicated or this deadline cannot be met due to other justified reasons, the Ombudsman is entitled to extend the deadline. The appealing person will be informed on the extension of the deadline of inspection.
During the investigation of an inspection case the Ombudsman hears explanations by the involved parties and other persons, requests expert conclusions and carries out other activities provided for by the Law and required for investigation. Inspection case is terminated by settlement of the involved parties or statement of the Ombudsman.
A settlement is the resolution of a problem by finding an option acceptable to both parties within the framework of the Law.
In a statement, the Ombudsman provides an evaluation of the findings of the inspection case. It may include suggestions for elimination of a detected violation or, if necessary other suggestions. The Ombudsman’s statement is not legally binding – it has a guideline nature.
If it is impossible or unnecessary to continue a case, the Ombudsman, takes a decision on termination thereof.
What types of complaints are not investigated by the Ombudsman?
- The Ombudsman will not investigate complaints or provide advice in cases where a court decision has already become effective between the same parties and for the same violation;
- The Ombudsman will not investigate disputes between private individuals, except for cases when a person has been faced with discrimination or unequal treatment. In such situations, the Ombudsman may prepare an application on behalf of the person and represent the person in court.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate complaints in cases where the rights of Latvian residents have been violated by foreign state or municipal authorities. In such situations the person should apply to the ombudsman institution of the relevant country. Meanwhile, complaints concerning violations by institutions of the European Union are considered by the European Ombudsman.
- There is a very little possibility that the Ombudsman will be able to perform a successful investigation in cases when the violation has happened a long time (several years) ago. Therefore, the sooner a person appeals to the Ombudsman, the bigger the possibility of a successful outcome.
Information to be included in the complaint
The complaint must contain the appealing person’s given name, surname, telephone number and return address.
The appealing person may choose to provide information on the date and place of birth, occupation, citizenship, official and factual address, if it may be relevant for the case.
The following information must be provided in connection with the potential violation:
- about the entity or person complained against;
- maximally detailed summary of known facts in chronological sequence, including an accurate description of events, circumstances, names of involved persons or officials, precise names and addresses of institutions and the negative consequences of the violation (caused damage);
- information on whether the action or decision of the institution has been appealed in a higher authority, if there has been such an opportunity. If a person has failed to use this option of defence of rights, the Ombudsman will usually be unable to address such a complaint;
- if possible, a person should provide and justify information on which rights have been violated, providing references to Latvian law or international human rights documents where possible.
If the appealing person wishes the Ombudsman not to contact the defendant and other concerned parties that have considered the case or are entitled to consider it, or not to disclose the name of the appealing person during the contact, it should be specially indicated in the application. However, in such situations the Ombudsman’s work will be made more difficult and a successful outcome is less likely.
Copies of documents related to the potential violation must be attached to the complaint.
Any refusal to provide information on any of the listed questions must be justified.
Complaints may be printed or in legible handwriting. In order to facilitate investigation of the complaint, it should be accurate and formal. Maximally accurate and complete information will facilitate and accelerate the investigation of a complaint.
In order to facilitate the preparation of a complaint, a special standard blank has been designed, which can be obtained at the Ombudsman’s office, printed from the Ombudsman’s home page www.tiesibsargs.lv, or received by e-mail by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application, complaint or filled-in complaint blank must be sent to:
25 Baznīcas Street, Riga, LV 1010