"INJUSTICE ANYWHERE THREATENS JUSTICE EVERYWHERE"
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ombudsman International is an advocate for human rights around the world, particularly for American citizens who live or travel abroad. An ombudsman is a nonpartisan public official who investigates complaints by individuals against government agencies or public officials. Most complaints regard the unjust or excessively harsh treatment of people by police officers, prosecuting attorneys, or judges. Other complaints regard bribery and extortion by public officials as well as other forms of misconduct. After investigating a complaint, the Ombudsman may dismiss it or seek correction of the problem by persuasion, by publicity, or, occasionally, by recommending prosecution.
Ombudsman is an Old Norse word translated to mean “administration-man” or “king’s representative”. It was a concept developed in the Swedish constitution of 1809 as a means to curb governmental abuses and protect the rights of citizens. This later evolved into the investigation of unlawful or unfair acts by public officials or agents as well as complaints about public services. The Ombudsman determines wrongdoing, mediates and or makes recommendations for changes in practices and policies. Nearly 200 years later, this is the primary function of an Ombudsman. The definition of Ombudsman has also undergone a change. It is more readily translated to mean work “On behalf of Mankind”. Today, Ombudsmen can be found around the world in government, educational institutions, business and even in industry.
Ombudsman International is empowered by the treaties and covenants collectively known as the International Bill of Human Rights. The International Court of Justice regularly invokes the principles contained in those treaties and covenants in their decisions. Those same principles have also found their way into decisions made by national and local tribunals. They have become a new Magna Carta, marking mankind’s conscious acquisition of human dignity and worth.
The U. S.. Department of State regularly issues updated warnings for Americans traveling abroad. As evidenced by the recent murder of James Foley, Americans must remember that they are frequent targets for kidnapping, extortion, robbery and other crimes including murder. The work of charitable or religious groups is not respected in many places and journalists do not enjoy the immunities afforded to them in the united States.Neither the united States Government nor the Ombudsman International can guarantee their safety or the redress of grievances on their behalf. Accordingly, American citizens considering travel abroad should heed the warnings ofthe State Department and take those warning very seriously.