The Constitution provides for an Ombudsman who is an officer of the Parliament and who is required to hold no other office of emolument nor engage in any occupation for reward than the duties of his office. The Ombudsman is appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and shall hold office for a term not exceeding five years and is eligible for reappointment.
The principal function of the Ombudsman is to investigate complaints of administrative injustice in respect to decisions made or acts done or omitted by a Minister or department or authority of Government. In short, the Ombudsman can best be described as a "grievance person" to whom a citizen can make a complaint with a view to redressing the mistakes, delays, rigidity and carelessness of the government bureaucracy. However, the role of the Ombudsman is an advisory one and the consequence of any investigation he makes can only lead to recommendations and the submission of reports by him to relevant persons, authorities or to Parliament.
The Ombudsman is responsible only to Parliament, to which he makes annual reports on the performance of his functions including statistics of the complaints received and the results of his investigations. The office is non-political.
Ms. Lynette Anthea Stephenson, S.C. is Trinidad and Tobago's third Ombudsman, having been sworn in on February 20, 2006.
Ms. Stephenson has had a long and distinguished career in the public service of Trinidad & Tobago, having served, between 1976 and 1996, in several legal capacities from Temporary State Counsel II to Deputy Solicitor General. She was appointed Solicitor General in 1996.
She has also held directorships on the boards of state-owned companies including National Fisheries Company Ltd., Trinidad and Tobago Meat Processors Ltd. and the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.
In addition, Ms. Stephenson has served as a member of key Cabinet-appointed committees, including the Standing Committee on Negotiation of Bilateral Air Services Agreements, the Trinidad and Tobago Steering Committee on the Unitization of Cross-border Hydrocarbon Reservoirs and as a member of the Team to negotiate a new Shareholders Agreement between Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago and Cable and Wireless West Indies.
Ms. Stephenson attained the status of Senior Counsel in November 2000. She believes the Office of the Ombudsman is vital "because it gives people the reassurance that someone in authority is seeking their interest."
View the Website of the Office of the Ombudsman here.
(note: this website is not maintained by the Office of the Parliament)