Ombudsman Act

Link to law: http://www.belizelaw.org/web/lawadmin/PDF%20files/cap005.pdf
Published: 2000

CAP. 5, OMBUDSMAN ACT BELIZE

OMBUDSMAN ACT CHAPTER 5

REVISED EDITION 2000 SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000

This is a revised edition of the law, prepared by the Law Revision Commissioner under the authority of the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 1980 - 1990.

This edition contains a consolidation of the following laws- Page

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS 3

OMBUDSMAN ACT 6 Amendments in force as at 31st December, 2000.

BELIZE

OMBUDSMAN ACT CHAPTER 5

REVISED EDITION 2000 SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000

This is a revised edition of the law, prepared by the Law Revision Commissioner under the authority of the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 1980 - 1990.

This edition contains a consolidation of the following laws- Page

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS 3

OMBUDSMAN ACT 6 Amendments in force as at 31st December, 2000.

THE SUBSTANTIVE LAWS OF BELIZE REVISED EDITION 2000 Printed by the Government Printer,



3Ombudsman

CHAPTER 5

OMBUDSMAN

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I

Preliminary

1. Short title and commencement.

2. Interpretation.

PART II

Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman

3. The Ombudsman.

4. Tenure of office.

5. Disqualifications for appointment, etc.

6. Restriction on employment.

7. Filling of vacancy.

8. Remuneration of Ombudsman.

9. Pensions and gratuities.

10. Appointment of officers, etc.

11. Oath of secrecy.

PART III

Functions of Ombudsman

12. Jurisdiction.

13. Initiation of investigation.

14. Who may complain.

15. Refusal to investigate.

16. Extent of exercise of powers.

PART IV

Process of Investigation

17. Procedure in respect of investigation.

18. Evidence.

19. Restriction on disclosure of certain matters.

20. Power to enter premises and retain documents.

21. Procedure after investigation.

22. Disciplinary action against officers and procedure for criminal offences.

23. Proceedings of Ombudsman not to be void for want of form.

5Ombudsman

24. Privilege.

PART V

General

25. Secrecy of information.

26. Performance of functions of Ombudsman by members of his staff.

27. Funding and accounts, etc.

28. Reports.

29. Register.

30. Offences.

31. Remedy under any other provision of law unaffected.

32. Oath of allegiance and office.

33. Ombudsman not subject to control of other authority.

34. Power of Ombudsman in relation to Contractor-General.

35. Regulations.

FIRST SCHEDULE

SECOND SCHEDULE

THIRD SCHEDULE

CHAPTER 5

OMBUDSMAN

[28th April, 1994]

PART I

Preliminary

1.-(1) This Act may be cited as the Ombudsman Act.

(2) It shall come into force on a day to be appointed by the Prime Minister by Order published in the Gazette.

2.-(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-

“action” includes failure to act, and other expressions connoting action shall be construed accordingly;

“authority” means-

(a) a Ministry, department or agency of Government;

(b) the Belize Police Department;

(c) a City Council or a Town Council; or

(d) other statutory body or authority,

7 of 1994. 42 of 1999. Commencement [ 31. 3. 1999] S. I. 19 of 1999.

Short title and commencement.

Interpretation.

42 of 1999.

7Ombudsman

and includes any company registered under the Companies Act being a com- pany in which the Government or an agency of Government holds not less than fifty-one per centum of the ordinary shares, which is declared by resolution of each House of the National Assembly to be an authority for the purposes of this Act;

“complainant” means a person who makes a complaint to the Ombudsman under the provisions of this Act;

“Constitution” means the Belize Constitution;

“Council” means the Belize Advisory Council established under the Constitution;

“emoluments” means salary, allowance and fees;

“functions” includes powers and duties;

“public office” and “public service” have the meanings assigned to those ex- pressions, respectively, by section 131 of the Constitution;

“Public Services Commission” means the Public Services Commission estab- lished by the Constitution.

(2) The references in this Act to a Ministry, department or agency of Government include references to the Minister, Minister of State, members or officers of that Ministry, department or agency.

CAP. 250

CAP. 4

CAP. 4

CAP. 4

CAP. 4.

PART II

Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman

3.-(1) For the purpose of conducting investigations in accordance with the provisions of this Act, there is hereby constituted an Office of a Parliamentary Commissioner to be known as the Ombudsman.

(2) The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor-General act- ing on the recommendations of both Houses of the National Assembly con- tained in resolutions passed in that behalf.

(3) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Act, the office of Ombudsman shall not be deemed to be an office in the public service.

4.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, any person appointed as Om- budsman shall hold office for a period of three years and shall, at the expira- tion of such period, be eligible for reappointment.

(2) A person appointed as Ombudsman may at his own request be relieved of office by the Governor-General and shall in any case, subject to the provisions of subsections (3) and (4) of this section, vacate office on at- taining the age of sixty-five years.

(3) The Governor-General acting on the recommendations of the Na- tional Assembly as aforesaid may permit an Ombudsman who attains the age of sixty-five years to continue in office until he has attained such later age, not exceeding seventy years, as may be agreed between them.

(4) Notwithstanding that he has attained the age at which he is required by or under the provisions of this section to vacate his office, the Ombudsman may continue in office for such period after attaining that age as the Governor- General, acting on the recommendations of the National Assembly as afore-

Tenure of office.

The Ombudsman.

9Ombudsman

said, may specify, in order to enable the Ombudsman to give his decision or do any other thing in relation to any investigation he was conducting before he attained that age.

(5) Nothing done by the Ombudsman shall be invalid by reason only that he has attained the age at which he is required by this section to vacate his office.

(6) The Ombudsman may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and shall not be removed except in accordance with the provisions of subsection (7) below.

(7) If each House of the National Assembly by resolution decides that the question of removing the Ombudsman from office ought to be investigated then-

(a) the Governor-General shall refer the matter to the Belize Advi- sory Council which shall sit as a tribunal presided over by the Chairman of the Council; and

(b) the Belize Advisory Council shall enquire into the matter and report on the facts to the Governor-General and advise the Gov- ernor-General whether the Ombudsman ought to be removed under this section.

(8) If the question of the removal of the Ombudsman from office has been referred to the Council, the Governor-General may suspend the Om- budsman from performing the functions of his office and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the Governor-General and shall in any case cease to have effect if the Council advises the Governor-General that the Om- budsman ought not to be removed from office.

5.-(1) No person shall be qualified for appointment to the office of Ombuds- man if he-

(a) is a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate; or

(b) is a member of a local authority; or

(c) is an undischarged bankrupt; or

(d) has at any time been convicted of any offence involving dishonesty or moral turpitude.

(2) The Ombudsman shall vacate office if any circumstances arise that if he were not Ombudsman, would cause him to be disqualified for appointment as such, by virtue of subsection (1) of this section.

6. A person appointed as Ombudsman shall be a full-time officer and-

(a) shall not be employed in any other capacity during any period in which he holds office as Ombudsman; and

(b) shall not, at any time after he has ceased to hold office as Om- budsman, be eligible for appointment in the public service.

7.-(1) When a vacancy arises in the office of Ombudsman, the Governor- General acting on the recommendations of the National Assembly, may desig- nate a person to act in that office during such vacancy, until a substantive appointment is made.

(2) Where by reason of illness, absence from the country or other suf- ficient cause, a person appointed Ombudsman is unable to perform his func- tions under this Act, he may appoint a member of his staff to perform those functions for a period not exceeding two months, but if the Ombudsman is

Restriction on employment.

Filling of vacancy.

Disqualifications for appointment, etc.

11Ombudsman

unable or fails to appoint such a person or if it is necessary that such a person be appointed for a period in excess of two months, the Governor-General, acting on the recommendations of the National Assembly, may appoint a suit- able person to perform those functions.

8.-(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Ombudsman shall receive such emolu- ments and be subject to such other terms and conditions of service as may from time to time be prescribed by or under any law or by resolution of the National Assembly, such emoluments being not less than the emoluments which may, from time to time, be payable to a Judge of the Supreme Court.

(2) The emoluments and terms and conditions of service of the Om- budsman, other than allowances that are not taken into account in computing pensions, shall not be altered to his disadvantage during the period of his ap- pointment or re-appointment, as the case may be.

(3) The emoluments for the time being payable to the Ombudsman by virtue of this Act shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

9. The provisions of the First Schedule shall have effect with respect to the pension and other benefits to be paid to or in respect of a person who has held office as Ombudsman.

10.-(1) The Ombudsman may appoint and employ for the purposes of this Act, on such remuneration and on such terms and conditions as may be approved by the National Assembly, such officers and agents as may be considered nec- essary to assist him in the proper performance of his functions under this Act.

(2) The Governor-General or the Public Services Commission, as the case may be, may, subject to such conditions as may be imposed, approve the secondment to the staff of the Ombudsman, of any officer in the public service, provided that in relation to pension, gratuity, allowances and other rights as a public officer, such officer shall be deemed to be in the public service while so employed.

Pensions and gratuities. First Schedule.

Appointment of officers, etc.

Remuneration of Ombudsman.

(3) An appeal shall lie to the House Committee (established under Standing Order 72 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives) from any decision of the Ombudsman removing or taking any other disciplin- ary action against a member of the staff of the Ombudsman appointed under this section.

(4) The House Committee may make such rules as it may deem fit for the hearing of appeals under subsection (3) above.

11. Every person appointed to the staff of an Ombudsman shall, before he performs any function assigned to him under or by virtue of this Act, take and subscribe an oath to be administered by the Ombudsman, in the form set out in the Second Schedule.

PART III Functions of Ombudsman

12.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, where the Ombudsman has reason- able cause to believe that—

(a) an authority or an officer or member of an authority has been guilty of corruption or other wrongdoing; or

(b) any person or body of persons has or may have sus- tained injustice, injury or abuse as a result of any action taken by an authority or an officer or a member of such authority,

arising out of or connected with the exercise of the administrative functions of that authority (whether before or after the commencement of this Act), the Ombudsman may investigate the action so taken:

Provided that the Ombudsman shall not investigate any matter or ac- tion which arose or was taken more than 10 years before the commencement

Oath of secrecy.

Jurisdiction.

Second Schedule.

Sub. Leg. 1991 Edn. Vol. 1, CAP. 4, p. 54.

13Ombudsman

of this Act.

(2) The expression “abuse” as used in subsection (1) above shall in- clude any act of discourtesy or refusal to act and any act motivated by discrimi- nation based on religion, language, race, sex, colour or creed.

(3) Subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section, the Ombudsman shall not investigate-

(a) any such action aforesaid in respect of which the com- plainant has already sought a remedy by way of pro- ceedings in any court or in any tribunal constituted by or under any law; or

(b) any such action or matters as are described in the Third Schedule; or

(c) the exercise of the powers conferred on the Governor- General by section 52 of the Constitution (which relates to the prerogative of mercy).

(4) The Ombudsman-

(a) may (to the extent that such investigation is not in conflict with paragraph 4 of the Third Schedule) conduct an inves- tigation into any reports made to the Governor-General or the Public Services Commission, as the case may be, in re- spect of the appointment, removal, promotion, disciplinary control or other personnel matters in relation to any person; and

(b) shall not be precluded from conducting an investigation in respect of any matter by reason only that it is open to the complainant to apply to the Supreme Court for redress un-

Third Schedule.

Third Schedule.

CAP. 4.

der section 20 of the Constitution (which relates to re- dress for contravention of provisions for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms).

(5) If any question arises as to whether he has jurisdiction to investigate any case or class of cases under this Act, the Ombudsman may apply to the Supreme Court for a declaration determining that question.

(6) The fact that an action is commenced in any court in connection with a matter under investigation by the Ombudsman shall not, unless the court otherwise directs, preclude such investigation.

13. An investigation pursuant to section 12 may be undertaken by the Om- budsman on his own initiative or on a complaint made to him pursuant to section 14.

14.-(1) A complaint to the Ombudsman may be made by any person or body of persons, whether incorporated or not, who claims to have sustained such injustice or abuse as is mentioned in section 12 (1), or who claims that an authority or an officer or member of an authority has been guilty of corruption or other wrongdoing, but such complaint shall not be made by-

(a) an authority; or

(b) a body or authority constituted for the purposes of the public service.

(2) Where the complainant-

(a) is a minor, the complaint may be made by his parent or guardian or any other suitable person;

(b) is unable to act for himself by reason of infirmity, or for any other cause, or has died, the complaint may be

Initiation of investigation.

Who may complain.

CAP. 4

15Ombudsman

made by his personal representative, or a member of his family, or any other suitable person.

(3) Every complaint to the Ombudsman shall be made in writing.

(4) Notwithstanding anything provided by or under any law-

(a) where a complaint made by a person who is an inmate of a prison or a Government institution or is detained therein, is addressed to the Ombudsman, it shall be forwarded to the Ombudsman by the person for the time being in charge of that prison or institution; and if such complaint is contained in a sealed envelope, the envelope shall be forwarded un- opened; and

(b) regulations made under this Act may make provisions for ensuring confidentiality of communication between any such person as is mentioned in paragraph (a) and the Ombuds- man.

15.-(1) The Ombudsman may, in his absolute discretion, determine whether to undertake or continue an investigation under this Act and in particular, but with- out prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, may refuse to undertake or continue any investigation if he is of the opinion that-

(a) the subject-matter of the complaint is trivial;

(b) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith;

(c) the complainant has deferred for too long the making of his complaint to the Ombudsman;

(d) the complainant does not have a sufficient interest in the

Refusal to investigate.

subject-matter of the complaint; or

(e) having regard to all the circumstances of the case, no in- vestigation or further investigation is necessary.

(2) Where the Ombudsman decides not to undertake or continue the investigation of a complaint, he shall inform the complainant of his decision and give reasons therefor.

16. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the powers conferred on the Ombudsman by this Act may be exercised notwithstanding any provision in any law that an act done thereunder shall not be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into question.

PART IV

Process of Investigation

17.-(1) Where the Ombudsman proposes to conduct any investigation under this Act, he shall afford-

(a) to the principal officer of the authority to which the inves- tigation relates; and

(b) to any other officer or member thereof who is alleged to have done or authorized any such action as is mentioned in section 12 (1),

an opportunity to comment in writing on any allegations relating to such action.

(2) The Ombudsman may adopt whatever procedure he considers appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case and, subject to the pro- visions of this Act, may obtain information from such persons and in such manner, and make such enquiries as he thinks fit.

Extent of exercise of powers. CAP. 4

Procedure in respect of investigation.

17Ombudsman

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as requiring the Ombudsman to hold any hearing, and except as provided by subsections (1) and (5) of this section and section 21 (3), no person shall be entitled as of right to comment on any allegations or to be heard by the Ombudsman.

(4) Regulations made under this Act may prescribe the procedure to be adopted at any hearing and such procedure may include provision to ensure that any such communication as is mentioned in section 28 (5) is not disclosed at that hearing.

(5) If it appears to the Ombudsman during the course of an investigation that there are sufficient grounds for making a report or recommendation that may adversely affect any person, he shall give that person an opportunity to be heard and that person may, if he wishes, be represented at that hearing by an attorney-at-law or any other person.

(6) Where, for the purposes of an investigation, the Ombudsman re- quires a person to attend before him, that person shall be entitled to be paid, according to the scale laid down in the Supreme Court Rules, expenses in- curred by him by reason of such attendance and by way of compensation for the trouble and loss of time suffered by him.

18.-(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (5) of this section and section 19 (1), the Ombudsman may at any time require any officer or member of an authority, or any other person who, in his opinion, is able to give any assistance in relation to the investigation of any matter, to furnish such information and produce any document or thing in connection with such matter and which may be in the possession or under the control of that officer or member or other person.

(2) Subject as aforesaid, the Ombudsman may summon before him and examine on oath-

(a) any complainant; or

Evidence.

(b) any officer, member or employee of an authority, or any other person who, in the opinion of the Ombuds- man, is able to furnish information relating to the investi- gation,

and such examination shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding and the provisions of Title XV of the Criminal Code shall apply to all statements made in such proceedings.

(3) For the purposes of an investigation under this Act, the Ombuds- man shall have the same powers as a Judge of the Supreme Court in respect of the attendance and examination of witnesses and the production of docu- ments.

(4) Subject to the provisions of this Act, any obligation to maintain secrecy or any restriction on the disclosure of information or the production of any document or paper or thing imposed on any person by or under any law shall not apply in relation to the disclosure of information or the production of any document or thing by that person to the Ombudsman for the purpose of an investigation; and accordingly, no person shall be liable to prosecution for an offence under any such law by reason only of his compliance with a re- quirement of the Ombudsman under this Act.

(5) No person shall, for the purposes of an investigation, be com- pelled to give any evidence or produce any document or thing which he could not be compelled to give or produce in proceedings in any court of law.

19.-(1) Where the Secretary to the Cabinet at the direction of the Cabinet -

(a) gives notice that the disclosure by the Ombudsman of any document or information specified in the notice, or any class of documents or information so specified, would-

(i) involve the disclosure of the deliberations or pro-

Restriction on disclosure of certain matters.

CAP. 101.

19Ombudsman

ceedings of the Cabinet or any committee thereof, relating to matters of a secret or confidential nature and is likely to be injurious to the public interest; or

(ii) prejudice the relations of Belize with the government of any other country, or with any international orga- nization; or

(iii) prejudice the detection of offences,

the Ombudsman or any member of his staff shall not communi- cate to any person for any purpose, any document or information specified in the notice, or any document or information of a class so specified;

(b) certifies that the giving of any information or the answering of any question or production of any document or thing would prejudice the security or defence of Belize, the Ombudsman shall not further require such information or answer to be given or such document or thing to be pro- duced.

(2) Except as provided under subsection (1) above and section 18 (5), no law which authorises or requires the refusal to answer any question or the withholding of any information or document or thing on the ground that the answering of the question or the disclosure of the information, document or thing would be injurious to the public interest, shall apply in respect of any investigation by or proceedings before the Ombudsman.

20.-(1) The Ombudsman may, for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or protecting the rights or freedoms of any person, enter any premises occu- pied by any authority in order to inspect any document or record therein in respect of any matter under investigation and may, without prejudice to the provisions of sections 18 and 19, make such enquiries and retain such docu-

Power to enter premises and retain documents.

ment or record, as he considers necessary to such investigation.

(2) Before entering upon any premises pursuant to subsection (1) above, the Ombudsman shall notify the principal officer of the authority or department by which the premises are occupied.

21.-(1) After conducting an investigation under this Act, the Ombudsman shall inform the principal officer of the authority concerned of the result of that investigation, and if the Ombudsman finds that an officer or member of an authority has been guilty of corruption or other wrongdoing, or that the com- plainant has sustained injustice, injury or abuse in consequence of a fault in the administration of that authority, he shall inform such officer aforesaid of his findings and may, as he thinks fit, make recommendations for action to be taken by that authority within a specified time.

(2) Where the Ombudsman has made a recommendation under subsec- tion (1), and within the time specified or a reasonable time thereafter, he is of the opinion that no adequate action has been taken in pursuance of his recom- mendation, he shall lay before the National Assembly a special report on the case.

(3) The Ombudsman shall not, in any report under subsection (2) above, comment adversely on any person unless he has given that person an oppor- tunity to be heard.

(4) Where the Ombudsman finds that-

(a) the complainant has sustained any such injustice, injury or abuse as is mentioned in section 12 (1), he shall in- form the complainant of his findings, the nature of the injustice sustained and the recommendations (if any) which have been made to remedy the injustice, and may make such comments in relation to the case as he thinks fit;

Procedure after investigation.

21Ombudsman

(b) the complainant has suffered no such injustice, injury or abuse, he shall inform the complainant of that finding and may make such comments in relation to the case as he thinks fit.

(5) On the conclusion of an investigation, the Ombudsman may make to the authority concerned such recommendations as he thinks fit and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, may recommend any or all of the following-

(a) that the action which was the subject-matter of the com- plaint be reviewed;

(b) that an enactment, rule or regulation which causes or may cause injustice, be altered;

(c) that compensation be made to the complainant.

22.-(1) If the Ombudsman finds, during the conduct of his investigations or on the conclusion thereof, that there is evidence of a breach of duty, or miscon- duct, or of a criminal offence on the part of an officer or member of any author- ity, he shall refer the matter to the person or body of persons competent to take such disciplinary or other proceedings as may be appropriate against that of- ficer or member and in all such cases shall lay a special report before the Na- tional Assembly.

(2) Where any special report is laid before the National Assem- bly, the National Assembly may, in addition to any other action it may take-

(a) if the report discloses the commission of a criminal of- fence, report the said matter to the Director of Public Pros- ecutions for necessary action; or

Disciplinary action against officers and procedure for criminal offences.

(b) if the matter discloses any breach of duty or conduct that has caused damage to any person or to his property, authorise the Ombudsman, after satisfying itself that the indigent circumstances of the injured party require such assistance to be given, to appoint a solicitor to institute action on behalf of the complainant to recover damages.

(3) The Ombudsman may, where he is authorised to appoint a solicitor on behalf of a complainant under subsection (2) above, incur expenses by way of legal fees and stamp duties not exceeding one thousand dollars in respect of any one complaint.

23. The proceedings before the Ombudsman shall not be rendered void for want of form.

24.-(1) Except in the case of proceedings for an offence under section 30 (c), no proceedings whatsoever shall lie against the Ombudsman or any person concerned with the administration of this Act, for anything he may do or report or say in the performance of his functions under this Act.

(2) Anything said or any information supplied or any document or thing produced by any person for the purpose or in the course of any enquiry by, or proceedings before the Ombudsman under this Act, shall be absolutely privileged in the same manner as if the enquiry or proceedings were proceed- ings in a court of law.

(3) For the purposes of the Libel and Defamation Act, any report made by the Ombudsman under this Act and any fair and accurate report thereon shall be deemed to be privileged.

Proceedings of Ombudsman not to be void for want of form.

Privilege.

CAP. 169.

23Ombudsman

PART V

General

25.-(1) The Ombudsman and every person concerned with the administration of this Act shall regard as secret and confidential all documents, information and things disclosed to them in the execution of any of the provisions of this Act, except that no disclosure-

(a) made by the Ombudsman or any person aforesaid in pro- ceedings for an offence under section 30 of this Act or un- der Title XV of the Criminal Code by virtue of section 18 (2) of this Act;

(b) which the Ombudsman thinks it necessary to make in the discharge of his functions and for the purpose of executing any of the provisions of sections 21 (2) and 22, and subject as provided in subsection (5) of section 28,

shall be deemed inconsistent with any duty imposed by this subsection.

(2) Neither the Ombudsman nor any such person aforesaid shall be called upon to give evidence in respect of, or produce any document, informa- tion or thing aforesaid, in any proceedings other than proceedings mentioned in subsection (1) above.

26.-(1) The functions of the Ombudsman, except those under sections 15, 21, 22, 27 (2) and 28, may be performed by any member of his staff authorized for that purpose by the Ombudsman.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as affecting the respon- sibility of the Ombudsman for functions performed on his behalf pursuant to subsection (1).

27.-(1) The funds of the office of Ombudsman shall consist of -

Secrecy of information.

Performance of functions of Ombudsman by members of his staff.

Funding and accounts, etc.

CAP. 101.

(a) such sums as may from time to time be appropriated by the National Assembly for the purposes of the office of Ombudsman; and

(b) all other moneys which may in any manner become pay- able to or vested in the Ombudsman in respect of any matter incidental to his functions.

(2) The accounts and financial transactions of the office of Ombuds- man shall be audited annually by the Auditor General and a statement of ac- counts so audited shall form part of the annual report mentioned in section 28.

(3) The Ombudsman shall, at such time within each year as the Minister of Finance may direct-

(a) submit to the Minister of Finance a statement of the ac- counts of the Ombudsman audited in accordance with the provisions of subsection (1);

(b) submit to the Minister of Finance for approval, the esti- mates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year commencing on the 1st day of April next following.

28.-(1) The Ombudsman may at any time be required by the National As- sembly to submit thereto a report in respect of any matter under investigation by him.

(2) The Ombudsman shall submit to the National Assembly an annual report relating generally to the execution of his functions and may, at any time submit a report relating to any particular case or cases investigated by him which, in his opinion, requires the special attention of the National Assembly.

(3) Reports under this section shall be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate who shall, as soon

Reports.

25Ombudsman

as possible, have them laid on the Table of the respective Houses.

(4) The Ombudsman may, in the public interest, from time to time pub- lish in such manner as he thinks fit, reports relating to such matters as are men- tioned in subsection (2) of this section and any case which is the subject of a special report under sections 21(2) and 22, provided that no such reports shall be published until after it has been laid pursuant to subsection (3) of this section.

(5) The Ombudsman shall not, in any report furnished under this sec- tion, disclose or act upon any communication-

(a) between a medical practitioner and his patient in their professional relationship; or

(b) between a minister of religion and any person consulting him in his capacity as such,

where such communication came to the Ombudsman’s knowledge during the course of an investigation under this Act.

29.-(1) Subject to subsection (2), where the Ombudsman decides to investi- gate a complaint, he shall cause to be recorded in a register kept for the pur- pose-

(a) the name of the complainant;

(b) the subject-matter of the complaint and the date thereof; and

(c) on the conclusion of the investigation, the Ombudsman’s decision respecting the complaint,

and any person may, on payment of such fees as may be prescribed, inspect during the hours and on the days of business of the Ombudsman, any register

Register.

kept pursuant to this subsection.

(2) A separate register shall be kept for any such complaint as is men- tioned in section 14 (4) (which relates to complaints made by a prisoner or an inmate of a Government institution), and which shall not be open to inspection.

30. Every person who -

(a) wilfully -

(i) contravenes the provisions of section 14 (4) or any regulations made in furtherance of that subsection, or

(ii) makes any false statement to or misleads or attempts to mislead the Ombudsman or any other person in the execution of his functions under this Act; or

(b) without lawful justification or excuse-

(i) obstructs, hinders or resists the Ombudsman or any other person in the execution of his functions under this Act, or

(ii) fails to comply with any lawful requirement of the Ombudsman or any other person under this Act; or

(c) in a manner inconsistent with his duty under section 25 (1), deals with documents, information or things mentioned in that subsection; or

(d) otherwise than in the course of his duty, directly or indirectly by himself or by any other person, in any manner whatsoever,

.

Offences.

27Ombudsman

wilfully influences or attempts to influence the decision of the Ombudsman with regard to any complaint made to him or to any investigation made by him,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

31.-(1) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as limiting or affecting any rem- edy or right of appeal, objection or procedure given to any person by any other law.

(2) The Ombudsman may initiate or continue any investigation and re- port thereon pursuant to this Act notwithstanding any legal proceedings relating to the subject-matter of the investigation.

32. Before entering upon his duties under this Act, the Ombudsman shall take and subscribe the oath of allegiance and office before the Governor-General.

33. In the discharge of his functions, the Ombudsman shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority and no proceedings of the Ombudsman shall be called in question in any court of law by way of certio- rari or any other means.

34. In carrying out his functions under this Act, the Ombudsman shall have due regard to the powers and functions of the Contractor-General under the Con- tractor-General Act and shall refrain from investigating a matter which falls within the jurisdiction of the Contractor-General.

35.-(1) The Ombudsman may make regulations to provide for any matter which is or may be prescribed by this Act and for any other matter in respect of which it may be necessary or desirable to make regulations for the better carrying into effect of the provisions of this Act.

Oath of allegiance and office.

Ombudsman not subject to control of other authority.

Powers of Ombudsman in relation to Contractor- General. CAP. 6.

Regulations.

Remedy under any other provision of law unaffected.

(2) The Ombudsman may make the contravention of any regulation made by him under the preceding subsection an offence punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for a term not ex- ceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.

(3) All regulations made by the Ombudsman under this section shall be laid before the National Assembly as soon as may be after the making thereof and shall be subject to negative resolution.

FIRST SCHEDULE

Pensions and Gratuities [Section 9]

1. In this Schedule, “pensionable emoluments” has the same meaning as in the Pensions Act.

2.-(1) Where a person holding the office of Ombudsman retires in pension- able circumstances he shall, subject to the provisions of this Schedule, be paid pension and gratuity in accordance with this Act in lieu of any pension, allow- ance or gratuity for which he may have been eligible or which he may have been granted pursuant to the Pensions Act.

(2) A person entitled to pension or gratuity pursuant to subparagraph (1) of this paragraph or who is eligible for a grant of pension or gratuity pursu- ant to subparagraph (5) of this paragraph may, by memorandum in writing to the Governor-General, elect to forego his entitlement under this Act and be granted instead such award under the Pensions Act as would be payable un- der that Act if the office of Ombudsman were a pensionable office under that Act.

(3) For the purposes of this paragraph and paragraph 4, a person retires in pensionable circumstances if he retires-

Interpretation. CAP. 30.

Entitlement to pensions and gratuities in respect of service as Ombudsman. CAP. 30.

CAP. 30.

29Ombudsman

(a) on or after the expiration of six years from the date of his appointment to the office of Ombudsman; or

(b) by reason of ill-health prior to such expiration; or

(c) on his attaining the age at which he is required by or under the provisions of section 4 of this Act to vacate office.

(4) For the purposes of this Act, a person retires from the office of Ombudsman on the ground of ill-health if-

(a) he retires on medical evidence, to the satisfaction of the Gov- ernor-General, that he is incapable by reason of any infirmity of mind or body of discharging the duties of his office and that such infirmity is likely to be permanent; or

(b) he is removed from office, in accordance with section 4 (6) of this Act, for inability, arising from infirmity of mind or body, to perform the functions of his office.

(5) A person who, pursuant to section 4 (6) of this Act, is removed from the office of Ombudsman for misbehaviour or for any cause other than inability arising from infirmity of mind or body or who retired otherwise than in pension- able circumstances may, subject to subparagraph (2), be granted by the Gov- ernor-General in lieu of any pension, allowance or gratuity for which he may have been eligible pursuant to the Pensions Act, such pension and gratuity as the Governor-General thinks fit not exceeding the pension and gratuity to which he would have been entitled had he retired in pensionable circumstances from such office and, for the purposes of subparagraph (6) of this paragraph, the date of such removal from office or retirement shall be deemed to be the date of retirement in pensionable circumstances.

(6) Pension payable in accordance with this paragraph shall-

CAP. 30.

(a) be charged on and payable out of the Consolidated Rev- enue Fund; and

(b) be paid monthly in arrears with effect, subject to paragraph 4 of this Schedule, from the date of retirement in pension- able circumstances and shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, continue to be paid during the lifetime of the person entitled thereto.

3. The rate of pension payable pursuant to paragraph 2 of this Schedule to any person shall be an annual rate equivalent to the sum of one-half of his pensionable emoluments at the date of retirement and one-three hundred and sixtieth of such pensionable emoluments in respect of each month of service as an Ombudsman:

Provided that the rate of pension shall not exceed the annual rate of such pensionable emoluments.

4. Where in accordance with paragraph 2 (3), a person retires in pensionable circumstances before he has attained the age of fifty years-

(a) the date with effect from which any pension due to him under this Act shall be payable, shall be the date on which he attains that age, but, if he elects pursuant to paragraph 5 to take a reduced pension and commuted pension gratuity, nothing in this paragraph shall prevent payment of the commuted pension gra- tuity at any time prior to the attainment of that age; and

(b) if he dies before attaining that age, and he has not made an election to receive a reduced pension and commuted pension gratuity as aforesaid, he shall for the purposes of paragraph 6 be deemed to have died while holding the office of Ombuds- man.

Rate of pension.

Special provision where Ombudsman retires before attaining age fifty.

31Ombudsman

5.-(1) Any person to whom a pension (in this paragraph referred to as “the original pension”) is payable pursuant to paragraph 2 may, at his option exercisable at his retirement in pensionable circumstances or within such period prior or subsequent to his retirement as the Governor-General may allow, be paid, in lieu of the original pension, a reduced pension at the rate of three-fourths of the annual rate of the original pension together with a gratuity (in this Act referred to as a “commuted pension gratuity”) equal to twelve and one-half times the amount by which the original pension is re- duced.

(2) The option referred to in subparagraph (1) of this paragraph shall be irrevocable unless the Governor-General, on such terms as he considers rea- sonable, otherwise permits.

6.-(1) Where a person dies while holding the office of Ombudsman, there shall be paid to his legal personal representatives, a gratuity of an amount equivalent to-

(a) one year’s pensionable emoluments; or

(b) the commuted pension gratuity for which the person aforesaid had a right to opt pursuant to paragraph 5 of this Schedule on the assumption that he retired in pensionable circumstances at the date of his death,

whichever is the greater.

(2) Where a person dies while in receipt of a pension pursuant to para- graph 2 above, there shall be paid to his legal personal representatives a gratu- ity of an amount equivalent to one year’s pensionable emoluments of that per- son at the date of his retirement or removal from office, from which gratuity shall be deducted any pension or gratuity already paid to that person under this Act or under the Pensions Act.

Gratuity on death.

CAP. 30.

Reduced pension and gratuity.

7. Where a person holding the office of Ombudsman dies as a result of inju- ries received-

(a) in the actual discharge of his duties;

(b) in circumstances in which the injury is not wholly or mainly due to or seriously aggravated by his own serious and culpable neg- ligence or misconduct; and

(c) on account of circumstances specifically attributable to the nature of his duty,

while serving in that office, it shall be lawful for the Governor-General to grant to the deceased Ombudsman’s widow, children, parents or other dependents such awards as would have been made under the Pensions Act if the office of Ombudsman were a pensionable office for the purposes of that Act.

8. A pension or gratuity payable under this Act shall not be assignable or transferable except for the purpose of satisfying-

(a) a debt due to the Government; or

(b) an order of any court for the payment of periodical sums of money towards the maintenance of the wife, or former wife, or minor children, of the person to whom the pension or gratuity is payable,

and shall not be liable to be attached, sequestered or levied upon, for or in respect of any debt due or claim whatever except a debt or claim due to the Government.

9.-(1) Where a person dies while holding the office of Ombudsman or while entitled to a pension under paragraph 2, there shall be paid to his widow a pension at an annual rate equivalent to one-fifth of the pensionable emolu-

CAP. 30.

Pensions, etc., not to be assigned.

Widow’s pension.

Pensions to dependents when the Ombudsman dies as a result of injuries received or disease contracted in the discharge of his duties.

33Ombudsman

ments of the person aforesaid at the date of his death or, if at that date he was entitled to receive a pension under paragraph 2, at the date of his retirement or, as the case may be, removal from office in accordance with this Act.

(2) Pension payable to a widow pursuant to subparagraph (1) above shall-

(a) be charged on and payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund; and

(b) be paid monthly in arrears with effect from the date of her husband’s death and shall, subject to the provisions of this Act continue to be paid during her lifetime.

(3) In paragraph 7 above and subparagraphs (1) and (2) of this para- graph, references to a widow shall, in the case of a female appointed Ombuds- man, be deemed to include references to a widower and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly, and similarly, references to a husband shall be deemed to include references to a wife.

10. In the exercise of his powers under this Schedule, the Governor-General shall act in accordance with the recommendations of the National Assembly.

SECOND SCHEDULE [Section 11]

Oath to be taken by persons appointed to assist the Ombudsman

I, ................................................. do swear (or solemnly and sincerely af- firm and declare) that I will faithfully perform any functions assigned to me under the Ombudsman Act, and I will not, on any account, at any time whatso-

Recommendations of National Assembly.

ever, except in so far as provisions of the Act authorize, directly or indirectly, reveal or make known any information or the nature or contents of any docu- ments communicated to me in the performance of any functions assigned to me by virtue of the Act.

So help me God.

THIRD SCHEDULE [Section 12]

Matters Not Subject to Investigation

1. The commencement or conduct of civil or criminal proceedings in any court of law in Belize or before any international court or tribunal.

2. Any action done with respect to orders or directions to the Belize Defence Force or members thereof, or any proceedings under the Defence Act.

3. Action taken by the Minister responsible for foreign affairs relating to the extradition of any person.

4. Any decision or action of the Governor-General or the Public Services Commission relating to the appointment, removal or disciplinary control of any person.

5. The grant of honours, awards and privileges under the National Honours and Awards Act.

6. Any matter which affects the security or external relations of Belize.

CAP. 162.

CAP. 135.
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