New Ombudsman to be appointed by March
The administration has committed to choose and appoint a new Ombudsman before the first quarter of next year. Questioned Thursday about the process, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, disclosed that moves have begun to narrow the choices.
He explained that the requirements mandate that the candidates be either a retired Justice of Appeal or Judge of the High Court who is qualified to become a Justice of Appeal. The problem with these requirements is that Guyana is very limited in who would be chosen, Harmon warned. On Monday last, during a sitting of the National Assembly, the issue was raised with Harmon telling the House that a new Ombudsman should be ready to start work by the end of March 2017. He declined to name anyone whom the administration may have in mind. In December 2013, after eight years without filling the key position, Guyana finally appointed an Ombudsman with Attorney- at- Law and former Justice Winston Moore chosen. Until then Guyana had been without an Ombudsman since the retirement of Justice Sheik Mohamed in 2005. Moore died in September, rendering the office vacant. An Ombudsman is an official usually appointed by the government or by Parliament but with a significant degree of independence. The official is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or violation of rights.
The typical duties of an Ombudsman are to investigate complaints and attempt to resolve them. Moore is best known for his report on the Maurice Arjoon case against mortgage giant New Building Society.
It was one of the first cases he worked on in 2014 with the report scathing in its criticisms of the police investigations and later the charges against the former Chief Executive Officer and two managers, who were all fired. The report by the Ombudsman cleared the men.
Arjoon has since filed a High Court case action claiming his pension and outstanding benefits. The court is expected to hand down a decision this week. The Ombudsman report is likely to be debated in the National Assembly soon.