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Ombudsman


The office of ombudsman is originally a feature of Scandinavian legal systems, first created in Sweden in 1809. An ombudsman is someone to whom a citizen may bring complaints against executive or bureaucratic incompetence or injustice, which fall short of actual allegations of illegality. Independent of the government, the ombudsman must investigate such complaints as are legitimately put before him, and recommend some solution to the citizen’s complaint. The actual powers of ombudsmen vary widely among the many jurisdictions and sub-state systems in which they have been introduced since the middle of the 20th century. Sometimes they can do no more than report publicly whether or not they believe an injustice has been committed, leaving it to the good faith of the administration, or to political pressures, to effect any remedy. Other ombudsmen may have the power to order a decision to be changed or even to order compensation against the offending bureaucracy. In the United Kingdom the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration was created as an ombudsman to investigate citizens’ complaints against the central state administration. Many other countries have followed suit, including New Zealand in 1962, and partial use of an ombudsman to receive complaints in a particular institution, especially the armed forces, is even more common. European countries often have military ombudsmen precisely because it is an area in which ordinary public law

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