Toothless Ombudsman
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Toothless Ombudsman

Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud (left) with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud (left) with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Ombudsman has unearthed so many clearly-flawed practices, wrongdoings and discrimination etc within government bodies/agencies/authorities. Yet, it is evident and so painfully sad to note that his impact and influence is entirely minimal, if any at all, despite all the sterling work undertaken.

As far as I can gather, after concluding his investigations and finding in favour of an aggrieved citizen, any decisions he makes can all be unceremoniously and disrespectfully ignored. Clearly, yet alarmingly, neither he nor his office possesses any authority to enforce his decisions/recommendations to provide any meaningful or effective redress to aggrieved citizens. Neither could there be a remedy and he cannot punish wrongdoers.

Is there any legal instrument in place that demands the Ombudsman’s rulings be enacted? If not, I wonder how he can be of assistance to those who register complaints with his office.

By his own admission, his conclusions are proving “ineffective” since they can be so cavalierly bypassed. Is it unusual for his recommendations not to be followed through or not complied with? How many times does this happen in relation to the number of times wrongdoers abide by all his recommendations? Is it perfectly legal not to follow through with an Ombudsman’s recommendations? If this is the case, what purpose does the Ombudsman serve if his excellent work may be so unscrupulously abandoned?

The Ombudsman, in essence, is a watchdog for the people but, sadly, one who, it would appear, is without any real teeth or bite.

One final point. In this age of gender equality and demand for quotas (in terms of more female representatives in Parliament and on boards of directors etc) when are we likely to ever have an Ombudswoman? Is this position the sole prerogative or preserve of males? Or is it again a case of ‘only in Malta’?

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