About Ombudsman’s Office
Functions of the Ombudsman
The activities of an Ombudsman are regulated by the Ombudsman Law, which was adopted on 6 April 2006 and came into force on 1 January 2007. It defines several functions of this official:
- The Ombudsman acts to protect the rights and legal interests of a person in situations when State and municipal authorities have breached the human rights defined by the Constitution and international human rights’ documents. Some of the key human rights are the rights to a fair, free and timely trial, freedom of speech and expression, private life, housing, social security, employment, property, these and other rights related to the interests of children, the rights of persons with special needs, etc.
- The Ombudsman works to ensure equal treatment and prevention of discrimination. For example, the Ombudsman addresses issues regarding discrimination on the grounds of nationality, religion, social background, material or health conditions, sexual orientation, political or other views, etc. Furthermore, the Ombudsman can deal with complaints in case of discrimination or breach of the principle of equal treatment not only by State authorities, but also by private individuals or legal entities. In cases, when a breach of the principle of equal treatment is detected, the Ombudsman is entitled to prepare an application on behalf of the person and to represent the person in hearings of civil cases in court.
- The Ombudsman evaluates and promotes adherence to the principle of good administration in government. Good administration implies unprejudiced and honest decision-making within reasonable time limits, the right of a person to be heard, to get acquainted with case materials, to request a justified decision, compensation of damages, etc.
- Persons may apply to the Ombudsman with a complaint or request in regard to all the aforementioned matters and demand prevention of the violation of rights. If a breach is detected, and if it is necessary for the benefit of society, the Ombudsman may represent the rights and interests of a private individual also in an administrative court.
- The Ombudsman reveals imperfections in regulations and application thereof connected with adherence to human rights and works to eliminate such imperfections. For example, the Ombudsman is entitled to submit reports on certain matters to the Parliament, State President, Cabinet of Ministers, State authorities and international organisations or to file an application for bringing a case to the Constitutional Court, if the authority, which has passed the debatable regulation, has not eliminated the imperfections within the specified time period.
- The Ombudsman works to enhance the public awareness of human rights, the mechanisms of protection of these rights and the work of the Ombudsman. Once a year, the Ombudsman prepares a written report on the work of the Ombudsman Office, elaborates and distributes information on human rights and the principle of good administration guaranteed by the law and international commitments of Latvia, stages seminars and conferences, informs the mass-media, etc.
The work of Ombudsman Office is organized in three main or legal divisions and two assisting divisions.
Tasks of Civil and Political Rights Division include:
- Performance of the tasks stipulated in the Ombudsman Law, subject to the goals and priorities prescribed by the Ombudsman’s strategies, in the field of protection and fostering of civil and political rights, including:
- the right to life;
- prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading attitude, and punishment;
- the right to liberty and security;
- the right to procedural fairness;
- the right to inviolability of privacy and family life;
- the right to free movement on territory of the State;
- the right to leave freely and return to the State;
- the right of individual to legal status;
- the freedom of thought, conscience. and religion;
- the freedom of speech and expression;
- the freedom of association;
- the freedom of assembly;
- the right to elect and to be elected;
- the right to perform public service;
- prohibition of extradition of an individual;
- procedural guarantees to foreigners in case of extradition;
- Participation in the monitoring of the process of forced return of an individual as stipulated in the Immigration Law;
- Fostering, protection and monitoring of the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities as regards their civil and political rights.
- Supervision of the implementation of international norms binding upon Latvia as well as implementation of national regulatory acts in the field of civil and political rights.
The tasks of Social, Economical and Cultural Rights Division include:
- Performance of the tasks stipulated in the Ombudsman Law, subject to the goals and priorities prescribed by the Ombudsman’s strategies, in the field of ensuring, protection, and fostering of social, economical and cultural rights, including:
- the right to work and fair remuneration;
- the right to property;
- the right to social security;
- the right to housing;
- the right to protection of health;
- the right of persons with disabilities to recognition of disability, social security and medical and social rehabilitation;
- the right to education;
- the freedom of scientific, artistic and other creative work;
- the right to healthy environment;
- the right of national minorities to ethnic and cultural peculiariaty.
- Fostering compliance with the principle of good governance in public administration;
- Fostering, protection and monitoring of the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities as regards their social, economic and cultural rights.
- Monitoring the implementation of international norms binding upon Latvia as well as implementation of national regulatory acts in the field of social, economical, and cultural rights.
Tasks of Children’s Rights Division include:
- Performance of the tasks stipulated in the Ombudsman Law, subject to the goals and priorities prescribed by the Ombudsman’s strategies, in the field of the rights of children, including:
- the right of a child to identity;
- the right of a child to grow up in family;
- the right of a child to education;
- the right of a child to means of subsistence;
- the rights of orphans and children left without parental care;
- the right of a child to be heard;
- the right of a child to recreation and leisure time;
- the tasks that provide to the protection of the rights and interests of children;
- Supervision of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and other international norms binding upon Latvia as well as implementation of national regulatory acts in the field of the rights of children.
Tasks of the Administrative Division include:
- monitor the work of Chancellery;
- perform human resource management function;
- plan financial resources;
- plan the indices of operational effectiveness;
- keep the accounting records;
- ensure internal control procedures;
- draft accounts;
- ensure and provide economical attendance of operation of the Office.
Tasks of the Chancellery include:
- schedule and coordinate daily routine of the Ombudsman;
- ensure information between the Ombudsman and the staff; between the Ombudsman and governmental authorities, legal and private persons (visitors), and cooperation partners;
- draft the internal regulations and instructions concerning the main activities;
- keep the internal records of organizational and directional documents;
- arrange reception of customers;
- organize circulation of documents;
- organize handling, saving and archiving of clerical records;
- keep the list of files.
Tasks of the Communication and International Cooperation Division include:
- draft and implement communication strategies;
- organize public events including provision of publicity of such events;
- cooperate with mass media in reflecting activities of the Ombudsman;
- conduct research, surveys and projects in the fields of operation of the Office;
- arrange communication events, information materials and campaigns in the fields of operation of the Office;
- develop internal communication;
- ensure support to the Ombudsman and the Office in international cooperation;
- provide administration and maintenance of the Ombudsman’s website.