The evolution of the Ombudsman shows that although it is a new institution, it has a high degree of adaptability and credibility and its fast spreading is an indicator of success of this institution, which is in the service of the individual.
Ombudsman is a Swedish word and, applied in the universal language, means: an authority or individual who pleads for another individual. From the legal perspective, the Ombudsman is an independent and respectable individual empowered by the Parliament or Government to protect the fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The first institution created to ensure the enforcement of laws in the administration is considered the Swedish institution, set out in the Swedish Constitution of 1809, the Swedish system being considered the one that created the Parliamentary Ombudsman. It should be mentioned that this system is characterized by the idea of mandate holder, i.e. a person who acts on the basis of a mandate, the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman being a mandate holder of the Riksdag.
The institution of the Ombudsman can be organized at national, regional or local level in two forms: The Ombudsman with general competence, who receives any complaints from people against abuse and injustice committed by the administration and, as a result of examination, solicits the administration to restore their rights; the Ombudsman with special competence who supervises certain services or areas.
The institution of the Ombudsman (mediator) was established after the World War I in a number of states based on the Swedish model, being constitutionally endorsed in 1809. Those states introduced the Swedish model in their legal structure, but with profound changes and in various forms and variants in terms of the name, composition, competence, duration of the mandate, etc. The different national names serve as an example: Parliamentary Commissionaire in Great Britain, People’s Advocate in Spain, Mediator in France, Advocate of Citizens in Canada, Parliamentary Delegate of Protection in Germany, Commissionaire in Administration issues in Cyprus, Advocate of Civil Rights in Poland, Ombudsman for Human Rights in Slovenia, People’s Advocate in Romania, Parliamentary Advocate in the Republic of Moldova (Center for Human Rights of Moldova), in other states – public mediator, parliamentary prosecutor, etc.
The basic characteristics of the institution of Ombudsman are: establishment through an act of the state authorities; mission of supervising the work of public administration; task to inspect, reveal, recommend and publicize the results of investigations.
The functions fulfilled by the institution of Ombudsman, on the basis of its mission, are: to supervise the observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms and of the legality, which implies functions of research and control of public administration; to mediate or suggest new legal measures; to sanction or penalize the authorities that cause damage in the institution’s activity.
The Ombudsman is an institution with special characteristics, because unlike the other three classic public authorities: legislative, executive and judicial, it does not have a decision making power and its role is to serve as a complementary element to the three classic public authorities, the main function being to check the accuracy of administration’s actions.