02 August, 2010
Complaints Commissioner: We are now looking at how a public service demonstrates the principle of accountability. There are a number of techniques used by different countries to ensure accountability in the public service. The first one we shall look at is the Complaints Commissioner. This is, of course, the famous Ombudsman, one of the few great human rights inventions of the Europeans. Without an Ombudsman or Complaints Commissioner, John Public must rely for enforcing his rights against an unfair and biased public officer on going to Court. And, we all know how expensive and unsatisfactory that can be.
The Ombudsman, on the other hand, is free, is completely independent of any politician or public servant, and reports only to the Legislature. Many of the larger islands have a Complaints Commissioner, but few if any of the smaller ones do. If the objection to such an appointment is expense, then there is no reason why the function of the Ombudsman should not be combined with other functions, such as a Human Rights Commissioner or a Police Complaints Authority.