Parliamentary Ombudsman of Malta
The Ombudsman institution was set up by the Ombudsman Act (Act No XXI of 1995), which was assented to by the President on 25 July 1995. Twelve years later, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Constitution of Malta (Amendment (2)) Bill incorporating the Ombudsman institution in the Constitution. The Act was given the Presidential assent on 24 July 2007, recognised the Ombudsman as a constitutional authority by means of an entrenched clause that can only be amended by a resolution supported by not less that two thirds of all Members of the House. In 2010 the Ombudsman Act was amended by Act XVII of 2010 to provide for the appointment of Commissioners for Administrative Investigations in specialised areas of the public administration.
The Ombudsman may investigate all administrative issues against the Malta police force. However, it shall not conduct an investigation in respect of any action or matter of any criminal investigation carried out by the police.
The Chair in charge of police complaints is the Parliamentary Ombudsman Mr Anthony C. Mifsud who is an independent officer of Parliament, appointed by the President of the Republic. The Ombudsman is not a Court of Law or Tribunal, he is not a ministry or government department, not a pressure organisation or a non-profit organisation. He is a defender of the citizens rights to good administration.
The Ombudsman’s objective is to contribute towards the development of a public service-culture characterized by fairness, dedication, commitment, openness, accountability and the promotion of the right to good public administration.
His primary function is to defend individuals against acts of maladministration, injustice, improper discrimination and abuse of power by public authorities. His remit is to investigate and resolve grievances that individuals allege to have received from government departments and public authorities within his jurisdiction. He does this with fairness and justice applying laws and regulations and the rules of equity in a timely and efficient manner.
His secondary but no less important function is to promote and develop a public service-culture that contributes towards the improvement of the quality of the Maltese public administration not only by recommending equitable redress for justified complaints, but also, by contributing towards the improvement of laws and administrative processes and procedures that are the source of injustice and hardship.
The Ombudsman’s mandate is to investigate any action taken by or on behalf of:
- any government department or other authority of the Government, any Minister or Parliamentary Secretary and any other public officer;
- any statutory body and/or partnership or other body in which the government has a controlling interest including any director, member, manager or other official belonging to such organisation;
- local councils and any committees thereof, mayors, councillors and members of staff; and
- any other body or entity subjected by law to his jurisdiction.
The Ombudsman is empowered to conduct any such investigation on his own initiative or on the written complaint of any person, having an interest, who claims to have been aggrieved. The Ombudsman is autonomous and not part of Government. He is answerable to Parliament and like Parliament holds the Government accountable to the people for its actions.
When the Ombudsman’s investigation shows that the complaint is justified, he may recommend that complainant be given adequate redress.
Number of Complaints in 2016 in the field of police complaints
The number of complaints in 2016 in the field of police complaints amounted to twenty cases that were all investigated by the Investigation Officers within the Malta Ombudsman Office. These grievances included cases filed by the citizens against administrative issues of the Malta police force. Nevertheless, there were also cases filed by police officers themselves against the Malta police administration.