Brochure about the role of the Ombudsman for Children.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Children
The Ombudsman for Children in Iceland is appointed by the Prime Minister to a period of five years. The first such Ombudsman for Children, Ms Thórhildur Líndal, a lawyer, was thus appointed on 1. January 1995 to serve for the following five years, she was reappointed on 1. January 2000 to serve for another five years. Ms Ingibjörg Rafnar, a lawyer, was appointed on 1. January 2005 to serve for the following five years. Ms Rafnar served as the Ombudsman for children till 30th of June 2007. Then Ms. Margret Maria Sigurdardottir, a lawyer, was appointed to serve for the next following five years. In his/her work, the Ombudsman for Children is independent and not subject to instructions from the authorities
What is the role of the Ombudsman for Children?
The role of the Ombudsman for Children is to further the wellbeing of children and to look after their interests, rights and needs vis-à-vis public as well as private parties in all walks of life. The Ombudsman for Children is expected to be a protector of all children up to the age of 18.
Scope of the Ombudsman for Children
The Ombudsman for Children shall seek to ensure that, in their dealings, public authorities, central and local alike, individuals, societies and other associations of individuals, and representatives of legal persons, give full consideration to the interests, needs and rights of children. The Ombudsman for Children shall point to, and make proposals for, improvements in the children´s lot wherever he/she considers this to be needed.
What falls outside the scope of the Ombudsman for Children?
The Ombudsman for Children does not deal with:
§ disputes between individuals
Nor does the Ombudsman for Children take up the cases of individual children of which the legislature has entrusted the solution to others, such as:
§ the public authorities
§ the Althing Ombudsman
§ the courts of law
The Ombudsman for Children shall, nevertheless, have the obligation to provide the parties involved in such cases, and who seek his/her advice, with guidance as to courses open to them either in administration or the courts of law.
Who can turn to the Ombudsman for Children?
Everyone, children and adults, may apply to the Ombudsman for Children for all matters pertaining to children.
Conditions for a matter being taken up by the Ombudsman for Children
Matters may be put to the Ombudsman for Children either orally or in writing. Indications shall be well reasoned. On demand, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children will provide a special form for the filing of indications and insofar as possible, assistance to those who so wish, in particular, though, to children. The Ombudsman for Children will himself/herself decide whether an indication warrants his/her taking up of a matter. His/her decision on this is final.
The handling of a matter by the Ombudsman for Children
Where the Ombudsman for Children concludes that an indication gives rise to a further investigation of a matter he will seek information from the parties indicated. In order to be able to carry out his task the Ombudsman can demand from the authorities all the information he deems to be required, such as reports, documents, records and other items. Similarly, he can demand this kind of information from individuals, societies and other associations of individuals, and representatives of legal persons, where he deems that they have, through acts or omissions, infringed the rights, needs and interests of children in society.
The Ombudsman can, furthermore, summon the parties concerned, or go to see them in order to gather additional information and to have a closer look at some details. The Ombudsman has free access to all institutions which house children or deal with children in one way or another, whether publicly run or by individuals, societies or other associations of individuals.
The conclusion of a matter
The Ombudsman can conclude a matter by:
§ dismissing it with, or without, specific instructions
§ dropping it at any stage
§ following it through with observations, recommendations, instructions and proposals for a remedy
§ issuing a reasoned opinion
Is a conclusion of the Ombudsman for Children binding on the authorities, individuals, societies, other associations of individuals, representatives of legal persons?
Conclusions by the Ombudsman for Children in matters submitted for his/her consideration are not by law binding on the parties listed above. Those concerned are, however, expected to heed the observations, recommendations and proposals made by the Ombudsman for Children for improvements in the children´s lot.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Children is open on weekdays between 9.00 and 15.00 hours.
After 15.00, messages are recorded on an answering machine.
Nordic Ombudsmen for Children: