The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman) was established in 1991 by virtue of Law no. 3(I)/1991 (the Law on the Commissioner for Administration), as an independent Incumbent, responsible to deal with individual complaints concerning maladministration, misbehavior and human rights violations by state authorities or officers.
The basic law has since been amended six times: in 1994 (Law no. 98(I)/1994), 1995 (Law no. 101(I)/1995), 2000 (Law no. 1(I)/2000), 2004 (Law no. 36(I)/2004), 2011 (Law no. 158(I)/2011) and 2014 (Law no. 45(I)/2014). Each amendment either enhanced the Institution’s powers and expanded its mandate.
A necessary condition for the activation of the responsibilities of the Commissioner is the submission of a complaint by a person who is directly and personally affected by the action against which he is directed. At the same time, it is possible to conduct an investigation after an order of the Council of Ministers.
Law 1 [I] / 2000, however, recognized the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights the possibility of ex-officio intervention, in his judgment, in cases of general interest, thus bringing about a substantial extension of his role.
Pursuant to the Commissioner of Administration’s Laws, the Commissioner for Administration is responsible for any disputes that may arise between the administrator, the citizen and each person, with various Services, within the meaning of which are the following:
► The Ministries and the Departments and Services underneath them.
► The Local Government Authorities.
► The Public Education Service.
► The Police and the National Guard.
► The Legal Entities under Public Law.
The Commissioner for Administration is not responsible regarding the following:
§ For actions of the President of the Republic, the Council of Ministers and the Minister of general government policy matters, the House of Representatives and the Courts.
§ For actions concerning the relations between the Republic of Cyprus and another state or international organization or for actions in the fields of defense, security or foreign policy of the Republic.
§ For actions pending in courts or considered in the context of a hierarchical appeal by administrative authorities.
Also, the Commissioner of Administration does not examine complaints which:
The investigation of a complaint starts from its signed, as a rule, submission, which is done by the directly interested natural or legal person or associations of persons or by a representative of the above. Complaints can be submitted in person to the Office of the Commissionerfor Administration, by post, by e-mail, by fax or by filling out the special form on the Office's website and by telephone, in case of an extremely urgent matter.
Complaints should include the identity and contact details of the person submitting them and an accurate description of the problem, the request and the public service involved and be accompanied by any information or evidence that can help substantiate the allegations.
As part of the investigation of the complaint, the complaint is assigned to one of the following thematic circles:
1. Basic Core of the Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights:
With the amendment of 2011 (Law no. 158(I)/2011), the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) was renamed “Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights” and vested with broader functions in the area of protecting, promoting and guaranteeing human rights as National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in line with the Paris Principles.
With the abovementioned amendment, the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights can examine ex officio and prepare reports or opinions, suggestions and proposals on human rights issues, prepare ex officio reports with views, suggestions and recommendations. It’s worth noting that during investigation, the Commissioner could have consultations or take information by non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations and other organized groups.
In addition to the above, following the accession of Cyprus into the EU in 2004 and as a result of the incorporation of Directives 2000/78/EC and 2000/43/EC into Cyprus law [Combating of Racism and Other Discrimination (Commissioner) Law, 2004 (L.42(I)/2004)] the mandate of the Ombudsman was expanded so as to include competences for combating discrimination and promoting equality under the directives.
In particular, the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights by the abovementioned Law was assigned to act as an Equality Body among others, promoting equal treatment between men and women and to combating discrimination in all fields, such as sex, race, language, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability etc.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights were further reinforced by his/her appointment by Law as the National Preventive Mechanism Against Torture (NPM). Specifically, with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Optional Protocol) (Ratification) Law of 2009 [Law no. 2(ΙΙΙ)/2009], Cyprus ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the competences of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture (NPM) were added to the existing competences of the Commissioner.
In 2012, following the ratification of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Republic of Cyprus and a relevant Council of Ministers Decision, the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights was appointed as Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in accordance with article 33 (2) of the UN Convention.
The Commissioner, as the Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, may examine complains relating to violations of the principle of equal treatment or human rights violations under the Convention and also proceed with own initiative or upon receipt of individual or group complaints and, furthermore, can conduct investigations of matters pertaining to the Convention, organize awareness-raising campaigns and promote the protection and entrenchment of the rights of Persons with Disabilities in general.
Finally, within the framework of harmonization with Article 8 (6) of the Directive 2008/115/EC and on the basis of Article 18i (6) of the Aliens and Immigration Law, in 2012 the Council of Ministers, appointed the Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights to establish and operate an effective system for monitoring the forced return procedures of third-country nationals.
The Commissioner, in the framework of its competence as a Mechanism for Monitoring Forced Return Procedures, monitors all stages of forced return procedures followed by competent immigration authorities and exercises effective control to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of persons who either have not lost or have lost their right to a lawful stay in the Republic, at all stages of their removal and readmission process in the country of origin or in the country from which they came.
Also kindly note that due a tragic incident occurred in Cyprus in 2019, dealing with the exploitation of foreign women, the Council of Ministers assigned the Commissioner the competences to examine the employee’s employment terms carried out by the Labour Disputes Department, Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, in cases of serious suspicion of the individual human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It derives from the above, that the Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights has a broad mandate to act as Equality Body, National Preventing Mechanism (NPM), National Human Rights Institute (NHRI), Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UNCRPD, Forced Returns Monitoring Mechanism and to examine cases of serious suspicion of the individual human rights and fundamental freedoms.
v Sector of Human Rights.
v Sector of Local Government, property, Development & Environment
v Sector of Financial Issues.
v Public Health Sector
v Sector of Social Benefits
v Sector of Education, Training and Employee Relations.
v State-Citizen Relations Sector
On March 15, 1991, the Commissioner for Administration officially begins.
The first complaint was lodged on April 20, 1991.
Mr. Nikos Charalambous, as the first Commissioner, was appointed on 15/3/1991.
Ms. Eliana Nikolaou was appointed as the Commissioner for Administration, on 18/12/1998.
Ms. Eliza Savvidou was appointed as the Commissioner for Administration, on 16/3/2011.
Ms. Maria Stylianou-Lottides was appointed as the Commissioner of Administration and the Protection of Human Rights on 20/4/2017.