The Parliamentary Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is the supreme overseer of legality , elected by the Parliament of Finland (Eduskunta). He or she exercises oversight to ensure that those who perform public tasks comply with the law, fulfil their responsibilities and implement fundamental and human rights in their activities. The Ombudsman investigates complaints, conducts on-sight inspections, takes own initiatives and makes statements on legislative proposals.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman
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The scope of the Ombudsman’s oversight includes courts, authorities and public servants as well as other persons and bodies that perform public tasks. By contrast, private instances and individuals who are not entrusted with public tasks are not subject to the Ombudsman’s oversight of legality. Nor may the Ombudsman investigate Parliament’s legislative work, the activities of Members of Parliament or the official duties of the Chancellor of Justice.

Independence
The Ombudsman is independent and acts outside the traditional tripartite division of powers of state – legislative, executive, and judicial. The Ombudsman has the right to receive from authorities and others who perform a public service all the information he needs in order to perform his/her oversight of legality. The objective, among other things, is to ensure that various administrative sectors’ own systems of legal remedies and internal oversight mechanisms operate appropriately.

Annual report
The Ombudsman submits an annual report to the Parliament of Finland in which he evaluates, on the basis of his observations, the state of administration of the law and any shortcomings he has discovered in legislation.
The election, powers and tasks of the Ombudsman are regulated by the Constitution and the Parliamentary Ombudsman Act.

Deputy Ombudsmen
In addition to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Parliament elects two Deputy-Ombudsmen. All serve for four-year terms. The Ombudsman decides on the division of labour between the three. The Deputy-Ombudsmen decide on the matters entrusted to them independently and with the same powers as the Ombudsman.

Fundamental Rights
Today, the Ombudsman’s tasks also include overseeing and actively promoting the implementation of fundamental and human rights. Thus, the perspective has shifted from the authorities’ obligations to implementing people’s rights. Fundamental and human rights are prominent in virtually all the cases referred to the Ombudsman. Evaluation of implementation of fundamental rights means weighing against each other principles that tend in different directions and paying attention to aspects that promote the implementation of fundamental rights. In his evaluations, the Ombudsman stresses the importance of a legal interpretation that is amenable to fundamental rights.

Mandate(s)
  • Ombuds
  • National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT Art. 3 (NPM)
  • Monitoring body under Freedom of Information Act
Core functions
  • Monitoring
  • Reporting to international and regional human rights mechanisms
  • Complaints handling
  • Cooperation with civil society organisations