Reform of the ombudsman institutions in Lithuania.
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The ombudsman tradition originated in Sweden in 1809 and has spread throughout the world in less than two hundred years. An ombudsman is a public official that offers people an opportunity to have their complaints heard, evaluated, and investigated by a neutral and independent body, and offers recommendations to the involved parties. The ombudsman plays an important role in strengthening democratic governance, rule of law, and civil society. Article 73 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania establishes that: ‘The Seimas controllers shall examine complaints of citizens concerning the abuse of powers by, or bureaucratic intransigence of, State and municipal officials (with the exception of judges). They shall have the right to submit a motion before a court that the guilty officials be dismissed from office. The powers of the Seimas controllers shall be established by law. If necessary, the Seimas shall also establish other institutions of control. Their system and powers shall be established by law.’ This means that the Constitution empowers the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) to establish the Seimas controllers (‘Parliamentary Ombudsmen Institution’) and other specialized ombudsman institutions. The Law on the Parliamentary Ombudsmen was enacted in 1994. The law provided that the institution is to be composed of five ombudsmen. The specialized ombudsman institutions are the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities, established in 1999 and the Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child, established in 2000. According to the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, the institution of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics was established. This institution could be compared to the Media Ombudsman. The Ministry of Economy has initiated deliberations on establishing a business ombudsman. This article analyses the strengths and weakness of the ombudsman institutions in Lithuania and the need for reform in these institutions, focusing on appointment, structure, independence, relations with other state institutions, mandate and authority of the institution and the implementation of its decisions.
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