OMBUDSMAN REVIEW REQUIRED

Giving a person appointed to such an important position such as that of Ombudsman needs a certain benefit of the doubt.  Whilst concerns were raised about the “fitness to hold office” no process was in place to give ordinary members of the public access to the organs of appointment.

A remedy could be making the appointment process more transparent by publishing the shortlisted candidates and secondly also allowing members of the National Assembly to interview the candidates.

All of the above come almost a year after the appointment of the current ombudsman with public criticisms by the more vulnerable members of our society not being given the due recourse to equality and justice.

Such concerns hinge around the constitutional mandate of the ombudsman and whether this is being done with procedural fairness.  Whilst the veracity and rationality of the criticisms cannot be established, it leaves concern of how such criticism can be avoided in the future.

Another issue raised is to what standard does the office of the Ombudsman hold itself to?  In the ordinary course of business the Ombudsman should be held to an equal or higher standard than those subject to the writ of the office of the Ombudsman.

When a dismissive and procedurally unfair approach is taken by the Ombudsman on matters placed before her can lead to the image of Office of the Ombudsman being further tarnished and reputation of the incumbent also being blemished.

There is still time for the Office of the Ombudsman to redeem itself and continued criticism could easily lead to another national crisis.  This will be with regards to the procedures for the review and replacement of the Ombudsman.  It is something that could lead to the appointment of another panel for a judicial review.  Should it lead to this, it will mean that the joke has been on us - will we laugh?

Independent

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