Friday, May 29, 2020

Ombudsman Calls for Extension of Jurisdiction

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The Office of the Ombudsman has called on the Select Committee on Regional Government and Lands, which also oversees the Ombudsman and IEC, to extend their jurisdiction to include the private sector, in their investigative mandate.

This was disclosed on Wednesday May 15th 2019, at the National Assembly when The Ombudsman Mrs Fatou Njie Jallow and delegation, presented their activity report for the year 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Mrs Fatou Njie Jallow said the number of complaints they received from the private sector during the period under review was 214; but that the office did not investigate the cases because it is not under its purview. Ms. Jallow said complainants were advised as to where to seek redress. “There is therefore the need to extend the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman to include the private sector. This is included in the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) and the office is working towards it,” she said.

Speaking further, Mrs Jallow said the type of complaints they received during the period under review ranged from unfair treatment at work places, injustice, corruption, retirement benefits, salary related cases, unlawful termination and dismissals, unlawful suspension and detention, etc.

Mrs Jallow said statistics in the 2017 report showed that the highest number of complaints received, were wrongful dismissals and terminations, followed by unfair treatment and injustice; that most of these were cases that took place in 1997, which made it difficult for information from institutions to be retrieved.

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The combined three-year report presentation consisted cases investigated and other activities of the office during the period under review. The institution received 571 complaints in the span of three years. Jallow said in 2015, a total of 128 complaints were received from the public sector, out of which 104 were successfully investigated, and closed by December 2015; that this denotes 82% completion. “Currently the completion rate is 100%, and there are no pending cases,” she said.

In 2016, she said a total of 131 complaints was received from the public sector out of which 107 were successfully investigated and closed by December 2016; that this denotes 82% completion. “Currently the percentage has increased to 93% with 9 cases still under investigation,” she said; that in 2017, a total of 312 cases were registered from the public sector out of which 218 were successfully investigated and closed by 2017; that this denotes 58% completion. “The number of cases received in 2017 increased tremendously. This one can be deduced as mainly due to the democratic environment currently in the country, which allows public officers and the general public to lodge complaints to the office of the Ombudsman, without intimidation,” she said.

According to her, the office of the Ombudsman has been struggling to get information; thus the completion rate is currently at 80% with 76 cases still under investigation.

“The Office will not relent, but will ensure that any complaint lodged at the office of the Ombudsman is investigated thoroughly and the appropriate recommendation made,” she said.

She presented that the compliance rate to their office’s recommendations is high, having over 98% compliance with recommendations and the number of complaints received over the past three years has increased from 128 cases a year, to 312 cases a year. She said this is over a 100% increment in the number of complaints lodged. 

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