Profile of the Office of the Ombudsman of Namibia
The institution of the Ombudsman was established by Chapter 10 of the Namibian Constitution. The Ombudsman Act 1990 (Act 7 of 1990) defines and describes the powers, duties and function of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman is appointed by the President on recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission by proclamation in the government Gazette and reports annually to Parliament. The Ombudsman serves until the age of 65, which can be extended to 70 years.
Provision is also made for the appointment of a Deputy Ombudsman and an Acting Ombudsman.
The primary function of the Ombudsman is to receive and inquire into and investigate complaints which are received by the Office and which concern matters falling within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman can investigate actions of any elected or appointed official or employee of any organ of the central or local Government and parastatals. Complaints relating to the failure to achieve balanced structuring and equal access or fair administration in the Public Service Commission, Defense Force, Prison Service and the Police force, can also be investigated, while investigation of complaints related to private institutions and individuals are limited to human rights violations.
Excluded from the Ombudman’s jurisdiction is Members of Parliament and Members of Cabinet to the extent of Immunity legislation applicable to them or to a judicial officer as far as the complaint relates to the performance of a judicial function.
Matters which can be investigated by the Ombudsman fall into the following categories:
b) Human rights violations
c) Environmental issues relating to the over-utilisation of living natural resources
d) Corruption and misappropriation of public monies and property
The Ombudsman is not required to inquire into or investigate complaint if in his/her opinion the matters are of a vexatious or trivial nature or are subject to court proceedings.
The Ombudsman or any of his/her staff authorised thereto has the power during the course of an investigation to:
Â· enter any building or premise
Â· access books, documents and other materials
Â· request information from any person
Â· seize anything
The following restriction applies: Private correspondence or homes of private individuals cannot be searched or entered.
The Ombudsman has the power to:
Â· issue a subpoena requiring any person to appear before the Ombudsman and administer an oath or take an affirmation;
Â· issue a subpoena for the production of any document or record relevant to the investigation;
Â· cause any person in contempt of such a subpoena to be prosecuted before a competent court;
Â· question any person about issues related to a complaint which is being investigated;
Â· require any person to cooperate with the Ombudsman and to disclose truthfully and frankly any information relevant to the investigation.
5. COMPLAINT HANDLING PROCEDURE
The Ombudsman is a member of the International Ombudsman Institute and the Africa Ombudsman Centre. It attends the Regional Africa Ombudsman Conference, which is held every two years in one of the African countries where such offices exist.
The Ombudsman submits the following reports to Parliament:
– Annual Report
– Special Reports