The Parliamentary Ombudsmen JO

The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) are appointed by the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) to ensure that public authorities and their staff comply with the laws and other statutes governing their actions.

The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) are directly accountable to the Swedish Riksdag and form one pillar of parliamentary control in Sweden.  The task of the Ombudsmen is to review the implementation of laws and other regulations in the public sector on behalf of the Riksdag and independent of the executive power. This review includes courts of law and other public authorities as well as their employees. The Ombudsmen are completely independent in their decisions.

Parliamentary control is a collective term for the Riksdag’s special powers to review and monitor the work of the Government and the public administration. Its three pillars comprise:

  • Parliamentary review: the right of Members of the Riksdag to pose questions to the Government, the Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution (KU) reviews the actions of ministers and the handling of government matters, the Riksdag has the power to initiate a vote of no confidence in a minister or the Government.
  • Judicial review: The Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) ensures that government agencies treat citizens in accordance with the law.
  • Efficiency audits: The Swedish National Audit Office reviews what government funds are used for and how efficiently they are used.

 

Task of the Parliamentary Ombudsman

The main task of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) is to ensure compliance with the law. The Ombudsmen are specifically tasked with ensuring that public authorities and courts abide by the provisions of the Instrument of Government concerning impartiality and objectivity and that the public sector does not infringe on the basic freedoms and rights of the citizens.

The ombudsmen’s enquiries are prompted both by complaints filed by the public or initiated by the ombudsmen themselves. Regularly inspections are made of various public authorities and courts in the country.

The Parliamentary ombudsmen (JO) are also appointed as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which has the task of monitoring to make sure that individuals deprived of their liberty are not exposed to cruel, inhumane or other degrading treatment or punishment.

Powers and sanctions

  • The Parliamentary Ombudsmen have the authority to issue statements if the measures taken by a public authority or a public official are in conflict with an existing law or other statute or are incorrect or inappropriate in some other way.
  • The ombudsmen have the right to issue advisory opinions intended to promote uniform and appropriate application of the law.
  • In the role of extra-ordinary prosecutor, the ombudsmen may initiate legal proceedings against an official who, disregarding the obligations of his office or his mandate, has committed a criminal offence other than an offence against the Freedom of the Press Act and the right to freedom of expression.
  • The ombudsmen may report a civil servant for dereliction of duty.

The name of the Parliamentary Ombudsman in charge of police complaints is Cecilia Renfors.

A detailed presentation of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen in English can be find at www.jo.se/en/About-JO.

In 2016 the Parliamentary Ombudsmen received about 1 000 complaints against the police.