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What is an ombudsman?

The Ombudsman (also known as ”Ombudsperson”) is a public institution that defends fundamental rights and public liberties by supervising the activity of public administrations. He is elected by the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, by a majority of three fifths of its members.

It has several functions, such as:

  • Receive and process complaints from citizens who feel harmed by a public administration or its agents, such as civil servants, police officers, judges, etc.
  • nvestigate ex officio, that is, on its own initiative, any matter that it considers may affect the rights and freedoms of citizens, even if it has not received any complaint in this regard.
  • Make recommendations, suggestions, reminders or warnings to public administrations so that they can correct their errors or improve their services.
  • Submit annual or monographic reports to Parliament on its management and on the problems it has detected in the functioning of public administrations.
  • Promote education and dissemination of human rights and public liberties among citizens.

Anyone can go to the ombudsman free of charge and without the need for a lawyer or procurator.

Related concepts

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)