Following the practice of many European and world countries, the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office was established in Lithuania on 8 December 1994.
The Seimas Ombudsmen are appointed for the term of 5 years from the candidates nominated by the Chairman of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. All of them are law graduates. The ombudsmen have equal rights and duties and each of them function independently when investigating complaints. One of the Ombudsmen is appointed Head of the Office.
Currently, the following Seimas Ombudsmen are in office: Mr Romas Valentukevičius (since 13 February 2008, serving the third term) and Dr Augustinas Normantas (since 1 July 2010, serving the third term). Mr Romas Valentukevičius is also appointed Head of the Office.
PURPOSE OF THE ACTIVITY OF THE SEIMAS OMBUDSMEN – to protect a person’s right to good public administration securing human rights and freedoms, to supervise fulfilment by state authorities of their duty to properly serve the people.
COMPLAINTS FALLING WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE SEIMAS OMBUDSMEN
The Seimas Ombudsmen investigate complaints about the abuse of office by and bureaucracy of officers or other violations of human rights and freedoms in the sphere of public administration.
Complainant means a natural or a legal person who applies to the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office filing a complaint about abuse of office by or bureaucracy of officers.
Officer means a state and municipal institution or agency employee, as well as any other employee performing public administration functions; an employee of a public institution and non-governmental organisation with powers of public administration granted according to the procedure prescribed by law, who exercises powers of administration over persons not subordinate to him; a person authorised by the state, performing the functions prescribed by law which have been granted by the state.
Abuse of office means acts or omission on the part of the officer when the powers granted to him are exercised not in accordance with laws and other legal acts but for self-seeking purposes or for other personal considerations (abuse of official position, revenge, envy, careerism, provision of illegal services, etc.) as well as actions of the officer whereby he exceeds his authority or his arbitrary actions.
Bureaucracy means actions on the part of officer when the latter, instead of dealing with the matter on the merits, observes unnecessary or invented formalities, unreasonably refuses to settle issues within the officer’s jurisdiction or delays decision-making or carrying out of official duties or performs other malfeasance or misfeasance in office (refuses to inform a person of his rights, gives a deliberately misleading or improper advice, etc.). Also considered as bureaucracy is the officers’ style of work when they fail to implement or to properly implement laws or other legal acts shall also be treated as bureaucracy.
COMPLAINTS FALLING OUTSIDE THE JURISDICTION OF THE SEIMAS OMBUDSMEN
The activities of the President of the Republic, members of the Seimas, the Prime Minister, the Government (as a collegial institution), the State Controller and judges of the Constitutional Court and other courts, municipal councils (as collegial institutions) are outside the Seimas Ombudsman’s powers of investigation.
The legality and validity of procedural decisions of the prosecutors, pre-trial investigation officers also are outside the Seimas Ombudsmen’s powers of investigation, however, complaints about the actions of the prosecutors, pre-trial investigation officers, which violate human rights and freedoms fall within the investigative jurisdiction of the Seimas Ombudsmen.
The Seimas Ombudsmen also do not investigate complaints arising from the labour legal relations and about the legality and validity of court decisions, judgements and rulings.
HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT
The complainant has the right to file a complaint with the Seimas Ombudsman about the abuse of office by or by bureaucracy of officers if he believes that his rights and freedoms have been violated thereby.
The Seimas Ombudsmen also investigate complaints of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania referred to him by the Seimas members.
As a rule, complaints are filed in writing.
If a complaint is received verbally, by telephone or if the Seimas Ombudsman establishes from the mass media or other sources the presence of elements of abuse of office by the officers, bureaucracy or instances of violation of human rights and freedoms, the Seimas Ombudsman may open investigation into the matter on his own initiative.
Verbal or written applications of complainants, which contain not complaints about officers but requests for explanations, other information or requested documents, etc. are not treated as complaints.
The deadline for filing complaints is one year from the commission of the act complained about or adoption of the contested decision. Complaints filed after the deadline will not be investigated unless the Seimas Ombudsman decides otherwise.
HOW TO FILL IN THE COMPLAINT
The following must be stated in the complaint:
- the addressee - the Office of the Seimas Ombudsmen (the Seimas Ombudsman);
- full name and address of the complainant;
- full names and positions of the officers against whom the complaint is filed, the institution or agency in which they are employed;
- a description of the decision or actions complained about, the date and the circumstances under which they have been performed;
- a formulated request addressed to the Seimas Ombudsman;
- the date on which the complaint has been drawn up and the complainant’s signature.
Attached to the complaint may be:
- a copy of the contested decision;
- the available evidence or its description;
RIGHTS OF THE SEIMAS OMBUDSMAN
When performing his duties, the Seimas Ombudsman has the right to:
- request immediate provision of information, material and documents required for the discharge of his functions, be granted access in the manner prescribed by laws to the documents which constitute a State, professional, commercial or bank secret as well as documents which contain information about personal data protected by law. Should it be necessary to execute the right, the assistance of police officers shall be enlisted and an appropriate statement of the seizure of documents shall be drawn up;
- having produced the certificate of employment, enter the premises of institutions and agencies (enterprises, services or organisations), and at any time of the day, if persons are kept in the premises for 24 hours or more, and unrestrictedly meet and interview persons present in the premises. The territory and premises of institutions and agencies the activity of which are regulated by a statute shall be entered with the officers of the institutions and agencies accompanying;
- request written or oral explanations from the officers whose activities are under investigation;
- question the officers and other persons;
- attend the meetings of the Seimas, the Government, other state and municipal institutions and agencies when the issues under consideration are related to the activities of the Seimas Ombudsmen or the matter investigated by the Seimas Ombudsman;
- enlist the services of officers of the Government institutions as well as those of ministry, county and municipality officers and officers and experts of the county governors’ administrations and municipal institutions and agencies ;
- inform the Seimas, the Government and other state institutions and agencies or the appropriate municipal council of the gross violations of law or deficiencies, contradictions of or gaps in laws or other legal acts;
- recommend to the Seimas, state or municipal institutions and agencies to amend the laws or other statutory acts which restrict human rights and freedoms;
- draw up a record of administrative violation of law for failure to comply with the demands of the Seimas Ombudsman or for interfering in any other with the fulfilment by the Seimas Ombudsman of the rights granted to him;
- apply to the administrative court with a request to investigate conformity of an administrative regulatory enactment (or its part) with the law or Government resolution;
- propose to the Seimas to apply to the Constitutional Court regarding the conformity of legal acts with the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Lithuania;
- refer the material to pre-trial investigation body or the prosecutor, if elements of crime are detected;
- apply to the court for the dismissal of officers guilty of abuse of office or bureaucracy;
- recommend to the collegial body or officer to repeal, suspend or amend the decisions which are contrary to the laws and other legal acts, or propose to adopt decisions the adoption whereof has bee precluded by abuse of office or bureaucracy;
- recommend to the collegial body, head of the agency or a superior institution or agency to impose disciplinary penalties on the officer at fault;
- recommend to the prosecutor to apply to the court according to the procedure prescribed by law for the protection of public interest;
- bring to the officers’ attention the facts of negligence in office, non-compliance with laws or other legal acts, violation of professional ethics, abuse of office, bureaucracy or violations of human rights and freedoms and recommend to apply measures to eliminate the violations of laws and other legal acts, their causes and circumstances;
- propose that material and non-material damage sustained by a person due to the violations committed by the officer be compensated in the manner prescribed by law;
- notify the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Prime Minister of the violations committed by the ministers or other officers accountable to the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government;
- recommend to the Chief Official Ethics Commission to evaluate whether or not the officer has violated the Law on Adjustment of Public and Private Interests in the Public Service;
- refraining from the investigation on the merits of a complaint falling outside the remit of the Seimas Ombudsman give proposals or offer commentaries to appropriate institutions and agencies on the improvement of public administration in order to prevent violations of human rights and freedoms.