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January 01, 2013, Tuesday

Turkish ombudsman

There has been a lot of discussion in Turkey about the recent election in Parliament of the controversial chief ombudsman, as well as discussion about the idea of an ombudsman.

 The average person is not really informed about the services offered by the Ombudsman’s Office, also known as the Public Monitoring Institution (KDK). The average Turk knows that there is an ombudsman, but I don’t know that anyone even has an idea what the ombudsman does for them. Neither do I know of anyone who has ever applied to the position. I don’t want to be sarcastic, and I am not even touching the selection process of the current ombudsman but I am really wondering how an ombudsman will help Turkey.

The Ombudsman’s Office is a public institution that analyzes the conduct of administrative practice or operation (such as operations conducted by local administrations, state economic enterprises, etc.) upon receipt of a complaint

The Ombudsman’s Office will investigate the grievance and make recommendations to the administration on the application of appropriate law. The purpose of the ombudsman law is to establish an independent and efficient complaint mechanism regarding the delivery of public services, and to research, analyze and evaluate the circumstances of a grievance and suggest a possible resolution to the dispute. In addition, the Ombudsman’s Office is authorized to designate provisions regarding the establishment of the Office and its duties and operation and the qualifications, selection, assignments and personal rights of the chief ombudsman and Ombudsman’s Office employees.

The responsible for preparing annual reports and other reports on necessary points; making these reports public; designating a representative to serve in the absence of the chief ombudsman; organizing the distribution of work among the Ombudsman’s Office employees; appointing a general secretary and other staff; and executing other duties established under relevant laws.

The ombudsman law also specifies that that the chief ombudsman should make decisions in accordance with a sense of justice based on human rights and in conformity with the laws and the constitution of Turkey.

The chief ombudsman’s qualifications are set forth under the Article 10 of Law number 6328 as follows: The chief ombudsman shall be a Turkish citizen; required to be older than 50 on the date of election; preferably a graduate from a faculty of law, political sciences, economics and administrative sciences, or economics and management faculties that requires four years of study, or an equivalent from a domestic or foreign institution of higher education; shall have worked at state institutions and organizations, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations or professional organizations that are similar to public institutions or in the private sector for at least 10 years; shall not have been stripped of his civil rights; shall not be a member of any political party at the time of the application; and shall not be sentenced due to criminal offences stated under Article 10 (f) of the law. I think an average Turkish citizen with a university degree who was employed in either the private or the public sector would be qualified.

The procedure for election and nomination is explained in Article 11 of the same law as follows: An announcement of the election is published by Parliament. Three candidates for nomination with the above mentioned qualifications are designated within 15 days of the conclusion of the application period and presented to Parliament for discussion. The General Assembly will carry out the process of electing a chief ombudsman from among the candidates within 15 days. The chief ombudsman is elected by a two-thirds vote of the total number of members of Parliament. If a majority is not constituted at the second voting, he is elected by a simple majority of the total number of members. If a simple majority is not constituted at the third voting, the nominee that has the highest vote count when a quorum is present will be elected.

On Nov. 27, 2012, retired member of the Supreme Court of Appeals Mehmet Nihat Ömeroğlu was elected to serve as the first chief ombudsman in Turkey.

We hope to see the positive effects of having an ombudsman in the coming days.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to [email protected] If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise expressly stated by the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should seek legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

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