Who is the Parliamentary Ombudsman?
The Parliamentary Ombudsman works to ensure that no one suffers injustice at the hands of the public administration, and is elected by Stortinget for a term of four years. Aage Thor Falkanger was elected Parliamentary Ombudsman in 2014. Around 60 people work at the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s office in Oslo.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman has a department, the National Preventive Mechanism, that works to ensure that people who are deprived of their liberty are treated in a good and respectful manner. An example of being deprived of your liberty is being placed in a child welfare institution against your will. The National Preventive Mechanism consists of eight staff members who visit prisons, police custody facilities, mental health care institutions and child welfare institutions.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman also has three departments that considers complaints from individuals and one department that raise matters on its own initiative. You can read more about how to file a complaint here.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s National Prevention Mechanism
The Parliamentary Ombudsman wants all children and young people who are staying in institutions to be treated well. That is why we visit institutions where children and young people stay because the authorities, for example the child welfare service, the health service or the police, have decided that they have to stay there. We do not tell the institution in advance that we are coming to visit. That is because we want to get an accurate impression of the place we are visiting. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is completely independent of the institution’s staff and the authorities.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman has been given a prevention mandate from the UN and the Storting. Every year, we write a report to the UN and the Storting where we describe what we have been doing over the past year, and write about the institutions we have visited and what recommendations we have given these institutions.
A special advisory committee gives us advice and input for this work. The committee consists of several organisations that have knowledge about human rights, children and young people, mental health care etc. Amnesty International Norway, the Norwegian Association of Youth Mental Health and the Ombudsman for Children are some of the organisations that a represented on the committee. We have four meetings with the advisory committee per year.