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Former magistrate recommended for position of Ombudsman

5/6/2009

Governor-General Sir Clifford Husbands has proposed that former Magistrate Valton Bend be appointed as the new Ombudsman in this country.

The announcement came yesterday morning as Speaker of the House, Michael Carrington, read correspondence, dated April 27, 2009, from His Excellency, Sir Clifford to the House of the Assembly. He said that the appointment has been made on the recommendation of Prime Minster David Thompson and consultation with the Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley.
Bendís appointment will make him the fifth person to hold that office, filling a post left vacant for more than a year.

Former ombudsman, Cyril Clarke, demitted office at the end of October 2007 after serving close to four-and-a-half years of his term of office. Clarke was the fourth person to take up the post, following in the steps of such persons as Sir Frank Blackman, C. Carlton Browne, and Carl Ince who held the post until 2003.

The purpose of the Office is to investigate and report to Parliament on citizensí complaints against the Government. According to the Ombudsman Act, the purpose of an investigation by the Ombudsman is to
ascertain whether injustice has been caused by improper, unreasonable or inadequate administrative conduct on the part of a Government ministry, department or other Government authority.

However, there is the possibility that with the passing of Integrity Legislation and the Freedom of Information Act, the powers of the ombudsman could be increased. Chairman of the Advisory Board on Governance, Senator Orlando Marville, told the Barbados Advocate in an interview late last year that the ombudsman, once the legislation is passed, could have the independence of the Auditor General and the authority of a judge.

The Office of the Ombudsman opened some six years after the Act was passed in 1981 and has received close to 2 500 complaints against various public sector agencies and ministries.
(JRT)

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