How does the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces investigate complaints?
When a complaint is received the Ombudsman carries out a preliminary investigation.
The purpose of this process is to ensure that:
- The complaint falls within the legal remit of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces;
- The person who made the complaint was genuinely affected by the action;
- The complaint is not trivial or motivated by, for example, a personal grudge; and
- No satisfactory measures have been taken to resolve the issue at stake.
If, at this stage the Ombudsman decides not to conduct a formal investigation, the person making the complaint will be informed of this decision.
The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces may decide that the complaint could be resolved at the preliminary stage and if so the Ombudsman may propose an early resolution.
So, the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is going to investigate my complaint, what legal powers does the Ombudsman have?
- The Ombudsman has the power to request any document or information he decides is relevant to the investigation.
- The Ombudsman can inspect and take copies of any records he decides are relevant to the investigation.
- The only documents that the Ombudsman cannot access are confidential Government records or documents concerning security or military operations.
- The Ombudsman has the right to require people who have relevant information to attend before him.
- The Ombudsman has the right to go into any military installation when conducting an investigation, subject to the provisions of S.I. 781 of 2005.
- Individuals cannot obstruct or hinder the work of the Ombudsman.
To effectively deal with cases, the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces can appointed Investigation Officers. An Investigation Officer is appointed by Warrant and has the same legal powers as the Ombudsman in respect of investigations.
If a complaint is made against an action I took, do I have the opportunity to have my say?
Yes, the Ombudsman must give a person, whose action is the subject of a complaint, the opportunity to respond.
When the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces completes an investigation what happens?
When an investigation is complete the Ombudsman sends his report to the person who made the complaint, other people involved with the investigation and the Minister for Defence.
Can the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces recommend action in his report?
If the investigation finds that the person who made the complaint was adversely affected by the action, the Ombudsman will make recommendations to the Minister for Defence. The recommendations may set out measures that should be taken to rectify the situation.
If the Ombudsman believes that the Minister's response to any recommendations made are unsatisfactory then the Ombudsman may issue a special report on the case. Such a special report will be included in the Annual Report of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. Details of the Minister's response to a report will be communicated to the person who made the complaint.
The information on this page is a guide to the complaints procedure. This guide is not a legal interpretation of the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004.