The constitutional document
Since 1948 The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing part of the Danish Kingdom. The islands have their own parliament and government.In 2000, the Faroese Parliament, Løgtingið, decided to establish a Parliamentary Ombudsman: “Løgtingsins Umboðsmaður”.
The role of the Faroese Ombudsman
The role of the Parliamentary Ombudsman is to monitor the governmental administration as well as the local authorities and safeguard the rights of the citizens. The Ombudsman shall ensure that the principle of equality is observed and, in other respects, that the administration is conducted in conformity with the law and good administrative practice.
The Ombudsman is an independent organ and not under the influence of any other administrative body, including the legislator.
The office of the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman of the Faroese Parliament is directly elected by parliament for periods of five years. The first Ombudsman was Joen H. Andreasen, was elected for the period 1. January 2001-21. December 2005. Sólja í Ólavsstovu was elected Ombudsman on the 1st of January 2006 for a period of 5 years. Currently, the staff of the Ombudsman consists of two legal advisers and a secretary.
The number of complaints are increasing every year, in 2009 the Ombudsman registered in the region of 100 complaints. Any person who regards himself unjustly treated by the authorities may file a complaint free of charge to the Ombudsman. All individuals, whether Faroese nationals or foreigners, may file a complaint to the Ombudsman. The same applies to associations and bodies formed by individuals. Complaints concerning matters which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Faroese home rule have to be processed by the Danish Ombudsman. These are e.g. matters concerning police, prison, immigration and refugee.
The jurisdiction of the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman monitors the governmental administration and local authorities, as well as the activities of private bodies, when these have been by law vested with authority to decide as to individuals' rights and obligations. Consequently, complaints may be filed to the Ombudsman about decisions, procedures and conduct exercised by ministry officials, governmental agencies and other bodies engaged in governmental administration. The same applies for local authorities officials and others, who are engaged in the administration for municipalities, as well as to employees of private bodies, when these have been by law vested with authority to decide as to individuals' rights and obligations.
Among the matters which fall outside the Ombudsman's jurisdiction are:
• the proceedings of the parliament,
• the proceedings of the courts of law,
• the proceedings of the Danish state, or Danish authorities in the Faroe Islands,
• decisions by the authorities, which shall put to the courts, as provided by law,
• differences between individuals
Conditions for the admission of a case
The following conditions for admission applies:
• When a decision by an authority gives rise to a complaint and it can be appealed to a higher authority, i.e. a cabinet minister, the complaint must first be referred to the higher authority before it can be filed to the Ombudsman. However, complaints involving a delay in the conclusion of a case, or the conduct of a civil servant, may be filed directly to the Ombudsman.
• A complaint must be filed to the Ombudsman within a year of the notification to a party of the decision which forms the object of the complaint.
• A complaint to the Ombudsman must be submitted in writing. A special form is available for that purpose. If needed, and, when possible, the Ombudsman's staff will help with the drafting of a complaint.
The examination of a case
The Ombudsman may demand the information he needs from the authorities for carrying out his task, including reports, documents, records and other items. He may summon administrative officials to give oral information and reports. Furthermore, the Ombudsman has free access to the premises of the authorities in order to carry out investigations for his official purposes. Should the Ombudsman decide to examine a case further, following to a preliminary investigation of a case, he will give the authority concerned an opportunity to present its case.
The conclusion of a case
Cases which undergo further investigation are normally concluded through an act of remedy by the authority involved, or an opinion issued by the Ombudsman as to whether the authority has infringed the law or good administrative practice by its actions. Where the actions of an authority form the object of reproach or criticism by the Ombudsman, he will address a recommendation to make amends to the authority.
Conclusions by the Ombudsman in cases submitted for his consideration are not by law binding for the authorities, yet they are normally followed by the Faroese authorities. Should a public authority not follow the recommendations of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman may recommend that the party concerned will be given free legal aid in a lawsuit against the authority in question.
The Ombudsman reports annually to parliament on his work, detailing inter alia how cases have been concluded and the subsequent action by the authorities.
Cooperation with other ombudsmen
App. twice a year, the Faroese Ombudsman has a conference with the ombudsmen from the Vest-nordic countries, i.e. Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Greenland. On these meetings the ombudsmen discuss and get advice from each other concerning actual cases, which have given rise to discussion or problems in their countries.