Ombudsman without investigators
The Office of the Ombudsman in its 2020 Annual Report has complained of being without investigators to carry out field investigations, a situation that has been ongoing for several years.
The report noted that the Public Service Ministry had previously considered the appointment of an investigator but that has not materialised.
Established to guarantee the protection of citizens against abuse and misuse of power, the absence of an investigator has hampered the work of the Office. So much so that of some 87 complaints received between 2019 and 2020, only 37 were resolved.
The complaints include allegations of injustices, corruption and wrongful dismissal by and against members of the Guyana Police Force, outstanding benefits for retired employees of the Demerara Distillers Limited, denial of old-age pension from the National Insurance Scheme and wrongful dismissal from the Guyana Defence Force, among others.
Ombudsman, Justice (ret’d) Winston Patterson has said that the Police Commissioner were among those officials who failed to reply to his correspondence although two or more reminders were sent.
The other agencies included the NIS and Commissioner of Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.
Importantly, the report notes that many of the complaints made were outside of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. Of the 87 complaints, 64 were within the jurisdiction while 28 are still pending with the relevant authorities and 23 were out of the jurisdiction of this officer’s office.
The report states that many of the complaints received were made by persons who walked in seeking advice and assistance. Only one was denied, one referred and one found to be unjust.