About Trinidad & Tobago’s Ombudsman
The year 1976 saw the enactment of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Act, in which provision was made for the OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN. The institution would become a reality in 1977 with the passage of the Ombudsman Act, which contained supplemental provisions. The effect of these statutory enactments created an independent office to which citizens of this country could have recourse in seeking redress against administrative injustice. The late Mr. Justice Evan Rees was sworn in as the first Ombudsman in December of that year, following the passage of the Ombudsman Act. The late Justice Rees remained in Office until 1991, when the late Mr. Justice George Edoo, a retired Court of Appeal judge, succeeded him. On February 20, 2006, Ms. Lynette Anthea Stephenson, S.C. was sworn in as the third Ombudsman of Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently serving her third term of office as Ombudsman. In December 2012, Trinidad & Tobago’s Office of the Ombudsman celebrated its 35th anniversary.
The principal function of the Office of the Ombudsman is the investigation of complaints of maladministration against government departments and agencies by members of the public. The role and functions of the Ombudsman are set out in section 93(1) of the Constitution, which reads as follows:
“The principal function of the Ombudsman shall be to investigate any decision and recommendation made including any advice to a Minister or any act done or omitted by any department of government or any authority………….being action taken in exercise of the administrative functions of that department or authority.”
In the process of fulfilling the statutory mandate the Ombudsman:
Responds to inquiries from the public.
Conducts thorough, impartial and independent investigation of complaints.
Consults and makes recommendations to various authorities for the purpose of improving administrative policies/practices/decisions.
Provides counselling and referrals on matters not subject to jurisdiction.