BY CAROL-ANNE SULEGA
THE Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) strongly recommends that an administrative mechanism be established to facilitate collaboration between the Ombudsman office and other integrity institutions to enhance resource and information sharing.
The traditional role of the Office of the Ombudsman is to investigate reports of maladministration.
Governmental power, administrative processes and decision making must be exercised with due care and any citizen that suspects that they have been treated unfairly by a government agency may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman.
This is stated to be important in ensuring that powers of the government are not abused or used in a manner that is arbitrary and unfair on citizens.
The conduct of investigations by the Office of the Ombudsman may include, summoning of information from government agencies, entry into official premises to collect information or the collection of any document or item that may be useful in its investigations.
The Ombudsman may summon witnesses and the Ombudsman may refuse to investigate a complaint if it appears that the complaint is trivial, frivolous, or if the complaint has no sufficient personal interest or the complaint is more than 12 months old.
The Committee’s report states that where the finding warrant, the Office then makes recommendations on remedial action to the Office of the Prime Minister or to the concerned Ministry.
The BLC according to its report on the Ombudsman Bill that has already gone through passage states that they were informed that where its recommendations were not adhered to, the Office of the Ombudsman must report on the matter to Parliament.
The passed legislation seeks to provide further powers to the Office of the Ombudsman to enforce implementation of recommendations.
It was reiterated during hearings on the Bill (at the time), that strengthening the roles and functions of the Office is vital in enabling citizens to hold their government accountable.
This, the report added is fundamental in a democracy such as in Solomon Islands and the BLC affirmed this important decision intention.