The Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights (Ombudsman) is a senior independent state officer. The institution of the ombudsman constitutes the most prevalent institution of extra judicial control of the administration and protection of human rights. The main pivots of the mission of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights are to ensure legality, to promote good governance, to combat maladministration and to protect citizens’ rights and human rights in general. The Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights operates as a guarantor of legality, keeps equal distances between the citizen and the administration and defines the limits of his/her competences and powers by adhering to the law and to the institutions of the state. For the citizens in particular, the Commissioner for Administration constitutes perhaps the most powerful means of safeguarding their rights and of supporting their claims, as the Commissioner’s activity is turned against any arbitrary act and abuse of power by organs of the state and the services exercising public administration.

In Cyprus the institution has been operating since 1991, with the implementation of the Commissioner for Administration Law, on the basis of which the remit of the Commissioner’s responsibilities is defined and regulated, making the Commissioner the guardian of the rule of law and citizens’ rights.

According to the provisions of the abovementioned Law, the Commissioner is appointed by the President of the Republic, at the suggestion of the Council of Ministers, and with the agreement of the majority of the House of Representatives.

The Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights has the power to investigate complaints against any public service or officer for actions that violate human rights, or are exercised in contravention of the laws or the rules of proper administration and correct behaviour towards the people administered.

The Commissioner will, normally, start an investigation after the submission of a complaint by a citizen who is directly and personally affected by the action against which the complaint is directed. It is, however, possible to start an investigation by order of the Council of Ministers or by ex officio decision on matters of general interest. The latter constituted a substantial deepening of the Commissioner’s role, since the Commissioner was given the opportunity for ex officio penetration in the administrative system and of pointing out system weaknesses and malaise, in order to eliminate them and to promote general principles and cultivate a new administrative culture.

In cases where violation of the law or human rights is observed, the investigation process can lead to the submission of a Report to the implicated authority, with specific conclusions, suggestions and recommendations that aim at resolving an issue and avoiding the generation of similar issues in the future. Alternatively, the Commissioner may make use of his/her mediating role and, in cooperation with the relevant authority, succeed in resolving the issue, without submitting a Report.

Despite the fact that the Commissioner’s Reports (suggestions or recommendations) are not binding, a question of principle arises if the services do not comply with them. This position was strengthened by the recent amendment of the relevant Law, on the grounds of which the Commissioner is allowed to proceed to consultations with the implicated authority, in an attempt to find a way for the authority to adopt the Commissioner’s positions and comply with them on a practical level.

Given the wide variety of issues investigated and the number of the implicated authorities, for the purposes of investigation and promotion of the emerging issues, a classification of the cases in Thematic Sectors according to their subject was deemed useful.

Specifically, the complaints submitted to the Commissioner for Administration are categorised and assigned to the following sectors:
      Ø The Human Rights Sector
      Ø The Environment, Immovable Property and Development Sector
      Ø The Local Government Sector
      Ø The Financial and Social Insurance Sector
      Ø The Education and Employee Relations Sectors
      Ø The Health, Social Protection and Relations between the State and the Citizen Sector

    Historical background

    On 15 March 1991 the Office of the Commissioner for Administration commenced its operation. The first Commissioner for Administration was Senior Counsel of the Republic, Nicos Charalambous. The first complaint was submitted on 20 April 1991. 466 complaints were submitted in 1991. In 2003 citizens’ complaints reached the number of 1840, while in 2013 the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights received over 2500 complaints that fell in the entire thematic sectors spectrum.

    On 18 December 1998, Ms Eliana Nicolaou was appointed Commissioner for Administration and on 16 March 2011, Ms Eliza Savvidou took office.
    On 20 April 2017, Ms Maria Stylianou-Lottides was appointed Commissioner for Administration.

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