Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - Several government departments and statutory
bodies are now more familiar with the roles and functions of the Office of the
Parliamentary Commissioner commonly known as the “Ombudsman.” This was achieved
through a familiarization seminar conducted last week by Parliamentary
Commissioner Mr. Madison Stanislaus.
The primary function of the Office is to investigate, issues involving
government departments, statutory bodies, and public sector agencies among
others. The office also has the power to review the performance of government
agencies and summon witnesses to appear before the Office on a particular case.
According to Mr. Stanislaus, despite this authority, there are limits to
investigative powers of the Ombudsman. “The Ombudsman concept is a paradox in
its own way – on one hand he/she could be very powerful and on the other hand he
might have absolutely no power. One of the shortcomings of the ombudsman is that
he has no enforcement or disciplinary powers. He has no power to make orders or
to reverse administrative action. All I can do is investigate, and whatever I
come up with, I make recommendations for change.”
Mr. Stanislaus reports to the Senate and the House of Assembly annually. He can
also submit special reports to these bodies, at anytime, on particular cases.
Mr. Madison Stanislaus is the island’s fourth Parliamentary Commissioner since
the office was opened in 1981. He was appointed in 2003.