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UmbodsmadurbarnaThe Office of the Ombudsman for Children 

The Ombudsman for Children in Iceland is appointed by the Prime Minister to a period of 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 courts of law or the Althing Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman for Children has, nevertheless, 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. 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 og following it through with observations, recommendations, instructions and proposals for a remedy. The Ombudsman can also conclude a matter by issuing a reasoned opinion.

Conclusions by the Ombudsman for Children in matters submitted for his/her consideration are not by law binding on the authorities, individuals, societies, other associations of individuals or representatives of legal persons. 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 OMBUDSMAN FOR CHILDREN  
Kringlan 1, 5th floor, 103 Reykjavík 
TEL: (354) 552 8999, FAX: (354) 552 8966. CALL TOLL FREE: (354) 800 5999 
E-mail: ub@barn.is Website: www.barn.is

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.


 

The Ombudsman for Children Act

The Ombudsman for Children Act No 83/1994

Article 1

An office of Ombudsman for Children shall be created with the role of improving the children´s lot, as well as safeguarding their interests, needs and rights in a manner further detailed in this Act.

In this Act the term ´children´ shall be taken to denote persons up to the age of 18 years.

Article 2

The Prime Minister shall appoint the Ombudsman for Children for a period of five years. The Ombudsman may, without  the post being advertized, be reappointed for another five years, yet once only save in exceptional circumstances.

The Ombudsman for Children shall have a university degree. If the Ombudsman for Children does not hold a degree in law his staff shall include a lawyer.

The salary and related conditions of the Ombudsman for Children shall be decided by the Salaries and Emoluments Tribunal. The Ombudsman for Children shall not be at liberty to hold other paid assignments or undertake tasks which are incompatible with his Office.

Article 3

The Ombudsman for Children shall strive to ensure that the rights, needs and interests of children are given full consideration by public authorities, individuals, societies and other associations of individuals and representatives of legal persons. In the course of his work, the Ombudsman for Children shall give instructions and make proposals for the furtherance of children´s interests in all walks of life.

In particular, the Ombudsman shall:

a)      take the lead in promoting policymaking discussion on children´s matters among the public,

b)      put forward proposals for the improvement of legal procedures and administrative instructions directly relevant to children,

c)      seek to further observance of international agreements, ratified by Iceland, relative to children´s rights and wellbeing, as well as to advocate the ratification of other agreements on this subject

d)      take action with such means as are at his disposal when he considers that the rights, needs and interests of children in society have been infringed through acts or omissions of those listed in paragraph 1 above,

e)      be instrumental in fostering public awareness of legislation and other rules regarding children and youngsters and seek to encourage research in this area.

Where the Ombudsman for Children considers that the provisions of subparagraph d) of paragraph 2 above may have been broken he shall direct a reasoned opinion to the party involved together with his proposals for remedy, if applicable.

Article 4

Anyone may apply to the Ombudsman for Children.

The Ombudsman for Children shall take up cases either on his own initiative or following a reasoned indication from others. He shall himself decide whether an indication warrants the opening of a case.

The Ombudsman for Children does not deal with disputes between individuals, but has the obligation to provide those who turn to him for such matters with guidance as to courses open to them either in administration or the courts of law.

Article 5

The pledge of secrecy notwithstanding, public authorities shall be obliged to give the Ombudsman for Children all the information which he deems necessary to carry out his task. Individuals, societies and associations shall, likewise, be obliged to provide the Ombudsman for Children with all the information which, in his opinion, is needed for him to perform his task pursuant to Article 3, subparagraph d). The Ombudsman cannot demand to have information with a bearing on state security, internal or external, or on such foreign affairs as are to be kept secret, except with the permission of the relevant cabinet minister.

The Ombudsman for Children shall also, where he deems necessary, have free access to all institutions which house children or whose work program includes children´s matters in one way or another, whether publicly run or by individuals, societies or other associations of individuals.

In the event of a dispute in relation to the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 above the Ombudsman for Children may take the matter to court. Proceedings shall be pursuant to the civil law.

Article 6

The Ombudsman for Children shall observe a duty of silence as to events that come to his knowledge in the course of his work and are to be kept secret because of legitimate interests, public or private. The same applies to the staff of the Ombudsman for Children. The duty of silence shall remain even after termination of employment. Otherwise, general rules pertaining to civil servants pledge of secrecy shall apply.

Article 7

The Ombudsman for Children shall engage his own staff. He may also engage specialists to work on specific assignments.

Article 8

The Prime Ministry shall supervise the financial affairs of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman for Children shall report annually to the Prime Minister on his work during the preceding calendar year. The printed report shall be published before 1 September each year. In other respects, the Ombudsman for Children shall be independent and unaffected by orders of the executive.

The Prime Minister shall, upon receiving the proposals of the Ombudsman, issue a regulation containing further rules as to the work of the Ombudsman for Children.

Article 9

This Act shall enter into force on 1st January 1995