The Greek Ombudsman

The Greek Ombudsman is an Independent Authority sanctioned by the Constitution. It was established by Law 2477/1997 & started its operation in October 1998. Its organisation, staffing and operation are regulated by Law 3094/2003, as well as the Internal Bylaws, as amended and in force.

The Greek Ombudsman mission includes combating maladministration and mediating between State Agencies and the public, in order to provide assistance in the effective exercise of people’s rights. Additionally, the Greek Ombudsman’s mission is:

  • to safeguard and promote children’s rights
  • to monitor and promote equal treatment and combat discrimination in the public sector based on race, ethnicity, religion and belief, disability, age or sexual orientation
  • to monitor and promote the implementation of equal opportunities and equal treatment between women and men: in matters of employment both in the public and the private sector / in matters of access to goods and services in the public sector

The Greek Ombudsman also holds a number of special mandates, emanating from international and EU law; the Authority is the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in the frame of the UN OPCAT, and the National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) in the frame of EU Dir 2008/115 and the EU-Turkey Joint Statement of March 2016.

By virtue of Articles 56-57, Law 4443/2016 (entry into force in 9.6.2017), which repealed Article 1 of Law 3938/2011, the Greek Ombudsman is defined as the National Mechanism for the investigation of arbitrary behaviour of the Police, the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Fire Brigade and Staff of State Penitentiaries

Organisation 

The Greek Ombudsman is divided into six Departments, supported by a Directorate of Administration:

  • Human Rights Dept.
  • Social Protection, Health and Welfare Dept.
  • Quality of Life Dept.
  • State – Citizen Relations Dept.
  • Children’s Rights Dept.
  • Equal Treatment Dept.

Complaints are assigned to one of these Departments, depending on the main issue they refer to. The investigation of each complaint is assigned to a Senior Investigator specialised in the relevant area

The recently introduced National Mechanism for the investigation of arbitrary behaviour of the Police, the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Fire Brigade and Staff of State Penitentiaries is currently directly under the Ombudsman, Andreas I. Pottakis

Missions

The integration of the Mechanism for the Investigation of arbitrary behaviour into the Greek Ombudsman guarantees its independence and ensures high credibility among the citizens.

Τhe Greek Ombudsman, acting as the National Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary Behaviour, is responsible to collect, record, assess, investigate or refer for further investigation and disciplinary control, complaints about actions of the Police, the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Fire Brigade and Staff of State, occurring in the performance of their duties, or abuse of their status regarding:

  • torture and other violations of human dignity within the meaning of Article 137a of the Penal Code,
  • illegal intentional attacks against the life, health, physical integrity, personal or sexual freedom,
  • illegal use of firearms or
  • illegal behaviour for which there is evidence of racist motivation or discriminatory treatment on the grounds of colour, race, national or ethnic origin, descent, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity

Powers

The Ombudsman evaluates each submitted complaint that falls within said specific competence and decides either to investigate it itself or forward it to the competent State disciplinary body. In case the Ombudsman decides to investigate the complaint on its own, the competent State disciplinary body is not prevented from continuing its investigation, but has to suspend decision on the case pending reception of the Ombudsman’s findings.

However, if the Ombudsman decides to forward the case, the competent disciplinary body is obliged to investigate it as a priority, and inform the Ombudsman of the outcome of its investigation. The Ombudsman evaluates the findings of the disciplinary procedure and may send it back to the disciplinary body for further investigation, indicating specific shortcomings of the procedure.  Implementation of the Ombudsman’s findings is not compulsory by law; nonetheless, the disciplinary body is obliged to specifically justify any divergence thereof.

The Ombudsman is also competent for cases involving a conviction imposed by the European Court of Human Rights, on the grounds of irregularities of the disciplinary process.  When the Ombudsman decides to reopen the case, based on the findings of the ECtHR, it communicates such decision to the disciplinary body concerned.

During the investigation, the Ombudsman may request public services to provide any information, documents or other pieces of evidence related to the case under investigation, unless they have been classified as secret, because they concern issues of national defence, state security and the country’s international relations. Furthermore, the Ombudsman may take statements from witnesses, conduct on-site investigations and order experts’ reports

Number of Complaints in 2016 in the field of police complaints 

During the first two months of its operation (from 9.6.2017 till 9.8.2017) the National Mechanism has already received 34 complaints against police officers, 4 of which were submitted directly by the person allegedly subjected to the arbitrary treatment. 29 complaints were forwarded by the police; one concerns an ECtHR judgment; 6 cases did not fall within the Ombudsman’s competence.  In 2 cases, the Ombudsman has decided to carry out the investigation itself, while the rest was forwarded to the competent disciplinary body.