Frequently Asked Questions & Responses

The Office does two main things:

1. Handles and report on complaints against Government Ministries & organisations to improve public administration through promotion of transparency, accountability and integrity in the administration and decisions making of Ministries and organisations.

The investigative arm is responsible for:

  1. conducting investigations regarding decision or actions carried out by Government agwencies icnlduing disciplinary forces that are believed to be wrong, unjust, unlawful, discriminatory or just plain unfair.
  2. Conducting regaulr reviews of disciplinary forces policies and pratices – Police, Prisons. SFESA, LTA.
  3. Issue recommendations
  4. Setting up the Ombudsman Tribunal

 

2. Protect and Promote Human Rights

The Ombudsman also the National Human Rights Institution is responsible to:

  1. raise awareness about human rights,
  2. monitor and review the Government’s human rights duties and providing advice to the Government on matters affecting human rights
  3. Visiting places of detention to ensure that they are in line with human rights standards etc.
  4. We can also inquire into and report on suspected human rights violations. Through this function, we can investigate and report on an alleged human rights violation.
  • Human rights are the ground rules for how we should treat one another: with dignity, respect, equality, fairness, and security for everyone, everywhere, every day.
  • Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms about life, education, health, work, personal security, equal opportunity, and fair treatment that belong to every person in the world, for no other reason than that they were born human.
  • Human Rights set out basic standards for how people should be treated, relationships between individuals, groups, and the State including in emergencies.
  • Human Rights set out basic standards about how we live together and inform us of our responsibilities to each other.
  • Human Rights exist with responsibilities
  • Human Rights help protect vulnerable people from the worst impacts of crises.
  • Human rights start at home.

You can complain about a decision or recommendation (including recommendation to a Minister); or any act done or (omitted) left out on a matter of administration of a Ministry or organisation that has affected you in your personal capacity.

For example: poor service, unreasonable decisions/actions by Ministries, unfair termination from employment, abuse of power, mistreatment, discrimination, unethical manners displayed by public servants while receiving services etc.  

The Ombudsman cannot investigate:

  • a matter against private individuals or companies or other non-governmental organisations;
  • a matter that is already before the court or tribunal,
  • decisions of the Courts;
  • decisions of statutory tribunals;
  • Complaints where there is an avenue of appeal available to the complainant by right of appeal or objection or a right to apply for review (eg. judicial review, statutory tribunal etc)
  • the case relates to an act or omission of a trustee under the Trustee Act 1975 the case relates to a decision, act or omission of the legal adviser to Ombudsman or counsel for the Government
  • a matter being investigated by a Law Enforcement Force under its own Act (unless the Ombudsman has reasons to believe that, there is an abuse of force, or there has been unreasonable delay in the investigation or the matter was not appropriately investigated)
  • No, we do not look into complaints about an administrative decision or practice of private businesses, NGOs and courts. This is outside our mandate and jurisdiction.
  • However, we do refer your case to relevant Ministries and agencies that can deal with your matter.

For example, we can refer your case to MCIL if it’s in relation to private businesses or NPF if it’s in relation to unpaid contributions by a private business.

  • The Office monitors those referral cases and follow up with those Ministries.

Yes, if:

  • The complaint has an existing remedy or appeal which must be utilised in the first instance;
  • The subject matter of the complaint is more than 12 months old;
  • Complainant has insufficient information to support complaint;
  • There is insufficient personal interest;
  • If considering all circumstances, it is considered further inquiries are not necessary.

You can:

  • Submit your complaint in writing and address it to the Ombudsman;
  • Fill out our online complaint form. This is lodged automatically towards our complaints email address.
  • Email your complaint using our email email address complaints@ombudsman.gov.ws 
  • Telephone us through our office numbers 25394 or 23317
  • Visit us in person to make your complaint.
  • For prisons, there is an Ombudsman Complaint Box in every prison that you can lodge a written complaint. These complaints are collected monthly by the office.

All services are free of charge

  • Any relevant supporting document/evidence

Keep it simple and stick to the facts. Be as specific as possible about dates, names and other important details. There should be enough information for the Ombudsman to understand the circumstances of your complaint and decide how to deal with it.

Think about:

  • What happened?
  • Where did the events take place?
  • When (time and date)?
  • Who was involved?
  • Were there any witnesses to these events? Have you included their details?
  • Do you have any medical evidence, photographs or documents which may be relevant? If so, you may want to supply copies with your complaint.
  • Have you taken any action already in relation to your complaint? What happened?
  • What action or outcome would you like to see as a result of your complaint?

Generally, your discussion with the Ombudsman is absolutely confidential and we will not divulge information unless you give us permission to do so. However, generally, we have to inform the agency of the complaint and its nature so that they can respond accordingly.

The Office of the Ombudsman does not represent or act as an advocate for any persons and does not take sides on any issues brought to its attention. It promotes fair processes and considers the interest and concerns of all parties to a situation. All Ombudsman processes and procedures are governed by the principles of natural justices.

Generally, we make recommendations to management of Government Ministries and Organisations on matters of maladministration. This may include a recommendation to cancel or vary a decision but it is ultimately, the decision of the entity involved.  

Step 1: Receive Complaint

Complaint is acknowledged within 3 working days & assigned to responsible Unit

Step 2: Assess & Review

omplaint is reviewed by investigator and submit its preliminary findings to Director within 10 working days

Complainant notified

Step 3: Early Resolution

Complainant is satisfied with the outcome of the preliminary findings.

Step 4: Investigate

Complaint is within jurisdiction and complainant has exhausted all other available avenues.

1. Notify

2. Review

3. Report

Step 5: Relay Outcome

Complainant is notified of the investigation findings and report.

We have found that some complaints can be dealt with quickly (within a week or a month). Others may take months to investigate properly (6 – 12 months). In any event, we will try to deal with your complaint as quickly as possible, and keep you informed of our progress.

We aim to respond to you or your contact with our office as quickly as possible. Our response time will vary depending on which of our functions you are using and who your complaint or enquiry is about. And of course, each matter is different, and the timing will depend on the nature and complexity of your matter.

For example: When you complain to us about a government agency, in many cases, we can quickly give you advice or point you to an avenue that may assist to resolve your matter faster. We aim to give you this advice within 5-10 days.

Scenario: A member of the public lodge a complaint against Police for not being given an update of a complaint filed months before. The Office contacted the Liaison Officer and provide the complainant with an update within 5-10 working days.

Often, we need to look further into your complaint before giving you an answer. This might involve getting more information from you or from the agency, or conducting some research. We aim to finalise these cases within 28 days.

Scenario: A member of the public lodged a complaint against an officer for bribery, the Office conducted a preliminary review on jurisdiction, liaise with the Police Professional Standards Unit and discuss whether an investigation is necessary. This takes at least 10 – 28 days.

Some complaints need a more detailed investigation to seek information from the agency complained about. Investigations usually take up to 6-12 months, although some are more complex and take longer. We’ll keep you updated if this happens in your case.

Scenario: A member of the public lodged a complaint against an officer for bribery, the Office conducted a preliminary review on jurisdiction, liaise with the Police Professional Standards Unit and find that an investigation is necessary. This takes at least 6-12 months. 

Professional and courteous attention, an independent, impartial assessment of your complaint, and advice about the options available. We will undertake confidential, free and prompt investigations if appropriate, using procedures that are fair to everyone concerned. We will provide clear explanations about what we can and cannot do and for any decision we make. We will keep you informed of the progress of your complaint.

Our Service Charter sets out our standards of service in more detail.

Criticisms and compliments are important ways of gaining feedback about our service. We are committed to improving our service to the public, and your views are welcome even if they are critical.

You can contact our Office directly and fill out our Customer Satisfaction Survey. 

Level 2, NPF Plaza Building – where the DMC restaurant & Digicel is located

Level 2, NPF Plaza Building – where the DMC restaurant & Digicel is located nwq xonr