Mandates of the Office of the Ombudsman

HUMAN RIGHTS

The Constitution of the Republic of Namibia as well as the Ombudsman Act (Act no. 7 of 1990) provides a functions to the Ombudsman to investigate allegations concerning the breach of Fundamental Rights. In addition to those provisions, the Namibian Bill of Rights provides for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Article 25(2) states that an,
“Aggrieved person who claim that a fundamental right or freedom guaranteed by this Constitution has been infringed or threatened shall be entitled to approach a competent Court to enforce or protect such a right or freedom, and may approach the Ombudsman to provide them with such legal assistance or advice as they require, and the Ombudsman shall have the discretion in response thereto to provide such legal or other assistance as he or she may consider expedient.”

It is therefore clear that the Ombudsman has a mandate to investigate allegations of the breach of fundamental Rights and Freedoms which are set out in the Namibian Bill of Rights. The Ombudsman has a duty to enforce the Namibian Bill of Rights to supplement the work of the Courts. In dealing with the Human Rights mandate the Ombudsman has a two-prong approach. The first approach is to receive complaints from an aggrieved person. Such a complaint will be investigated. If the Ombudsman is satisfied that a violation of a fundamental right or freedom has occurred, the Ombudsman may provide suitable remedies including those provided for in the Ombudsman Act as well as the remedies provided for in Article 25(2) of the Namibian Constitution. The second approach to the human rights mandate, by the Ombudsman, is through outreach programmes and the specific human rights education. It is important that the population be educated about human rights in general and on ways to be used to enforce their rights. These outreach programs are done in collaboration with other stakeholders like NGO’s, community leaders, local authorities, etc. It is important to note that as far as the human rights mandate is concerned, the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction is not limited to public officials. The Ombudsman can investigate complaints against public officials as well as private person, private enterprises or any other private institutions. The rights that will be covered are set out in the Namibian Bill of Rights and entails the following:
Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Article 5). Protection of Life (Article 6); Protection of Liberty (Article 7); Respect for Human Dignity (Article 8); Slavery and Forced Labour (Article 9); Equality and Freedom from Discrimination (Article 10); Arrest and Detention (Article 11); Fair Trial (Article 12); Privacy (Article 13); Family (Article 14); Children’ Rights (Article 15); Property (Article 16); Political Activity (Article 17); Administrative Justice (Article 18); Culture (Article 19); Education (Article 20); Fundamental Freedoms (Article 21).