The Act with Instruction for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen (2023:499)
Swedish Code of Statutes: 2023:499
Issued 29 June 2023,
Entry into force I:1 September 2023/ Basic provisions and organisation
Section 1. Pursuant to Chapter 13, Section 6 of the Instrument of Government, the Riksdag elects one or more Ombudsmen (Parliamentary Ombudsmen) who shall supervise the application of laws and other regulations in public activities in accordance with the instruction of the Riksdag.
Section 2. Pursuant to Chapter 13, Section 2 of the Riksdag Act, there are four Ombudsmen: one Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and three Parliamentary Ombudsmen. In addition to this, the Riksdag may elect one or more Deputy Ombudsmen.
Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman
Section 3. Pursuant to Chapter 13, Section 2 of the Riksdag Act, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is the administrative head. In this respect, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is accountable to the Riksdag for the activities of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen and shall ensure that they are carried out efficiently and in compliance with the law in force, that they are accounted for in a reliable and equitable manner and also that the Parliamentary Ombudsmen are good stewards of public funds.
Section 4. After consultation with the other Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman shall:
1. adopt procedural regulations that set out the organisation of the work and the areas of responsibility of each Ombudsman,
2. adopt an operational plan,
3. adopt the annual report, and
4. adopt proposed appropriations in the State budget for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
Section 5. If the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is unable to serve, the longest serving of the other Ombudsmen shall serve instead, unless the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman decides otherwise.
Service of Deputy Ombudsman
Section 6. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to decide whether a Deputy Ombudsman is to serve as an Ombudsman. A Deputy Ombudsman may be appointed to serve if any of the Ombudsmen is not serving. A Deputy Ombudsman may be appointed to serve during a period when an Ombudsman has left office and a new Ombudsman has yet to take office, or if a Deputy Ombudsman is needed for some other special reason.
Secretariat of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen
Section 7. A Secretariat of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen shall be provided (the Secretariat). A Head of secretariat shall be employed there, as well as other staff as determined by the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The Head of secretariat shall direct the work of the Secretariat under the authority of the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Section 8. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman decides on directive and instructions for the work of the Secretariat.
Consultation with the Committee on the Constitution
Section 9. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to consult the Committee on the Constitution regarding organisational issues of major importance.
Section 10. According to supplementary provision 13.2.1 of the Riksdag Act, an Ombudsman may initiate consultation with the Committee on the Constitution regarding the rules of procedure or on other matters of an organisational nature. It follows from this provision that such consultations may also be held on the initiative of the Committee.
Assignment in principle
Section 11. The Ombudsmen shall, to the extent specified in Sections 14-16, supervise the compliance of those carrying out public activities with laws and other statutes as well as their fulfilment of their obligations in other respects.
Section 12. The Ombudsmen shall particularly ensure that those under their supervision comply with the provisions of the Instrument of Government concerning objectivity and impartiality and that the fundamental rights of individuals are not infringed in public activities.
In the supervision of municipal authorities, the Ombudsmen shall respect the forms of the exercise of local self-government.
Section 13. The Ombudsmen are to contribute to remedying shortcomings in legislation If, during the course of their supervisory activities, reason is found to raise the question of amending legislation or of some other measure by the State, an Ombudsman may then make such petitions to the Riksdag pursuant to supplementary provision 9.17.5 of the Riksdag Act or to the Government.
Scope of supervision
Section 14. Unless otherwise stated in Section 15, those supervised by the Ombudsmen are:
1. State and municipal authorities,
2. officials and other employees of these authorities,
3. other individuals whose position or assignment involves the exercise of public authority, insofar as this aspect of their activities is concerned, and
4. officials and those employed by public enterprises, while carrying out, on behalf of such an enterprise, activities in which through the agency of the enterprise the Government exercises decisive influence.
The term ‘official’ is used in this Act, unless otherwise indicated by the context, to refer to those who are subject to the supervision of the Ombudsmen.
Section 15. The supervision of the Ombudsmen does not extend to
1. members of the Riksdag,
2. the Riksdag Board, the Riksdag Election Review Board, the Riksdag Appeals Board or the Secretary-General of the Riksdag,
3. the General Council of the Riksbank and members of the Executive Board of the Riksbank, except to the extent of their involvement in exercise of the powers of the Riksbank to make decisions in accordance with the Act on the Regulation of Currency and Credit (1992:1602),
4. the Government or Ministers,
5. the Office of the Chancellor of Justice, and
6. members of municipal and county council assemblies.
Section 16. An Ombudsman is not subject to the supervision of any other Ombudsman.
Section 17. Supervision is exercised by the Ombudsmen in reviewing complaints made by the public and through inspections and such other investigations as the Ombudsmen may find necessary.
Section 18. The Ombudsmen also undertake the tasks incumbent on a national preventive mechanism pursuant to the Optional Protocol of 18 December 2002 to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Section 19. The Ombudsmen may, through international co-operation and information efforts, promote the dissemination of the Ombudsman Concept Institute as a model and may also otherwise participate in international exchanges of experience.
Section 20. An Ombudsman may, with a decision in a case, issue a statement regarding whether an action by someone under the supervision of the Ombudsman violates a law or other statute or is otherwise incorrect or inappropriate. Ombudsmen may also make statements to promote uniform and appropriate application of the law.
Preliminary investigation and prosecution
Section 21. In the role of extra-ordinary prosecutor, an Ombudsman may initiate legal proceedings against an official who, in disregarding the obligations of his office or his mandate, has committed a criminal offence other than an offence against the Freedom of the Press Act or the right to freedom of expression.
If an Ombudsman initiates a preliminary investigation or prosecution, the provisions of the law on preliminary investigation and prosecution are applied together with provisions regarding the powers otherwise afforded to prosecutors in criminal cases subject to public prosecution.
In addition to what is provided for by law, an Ombudsman may close a preliminary investigation or refrain from prosecution if he or she determines there are grounds for doing so.
Cases brought before a district court are to be appealed to the Supreme Court only where there are exceptional grounds for doing so.
Section 22. If proceedings can be brought in the form of disciplinary measures against an official who, in disregarding the obligations of his office or his mandate, has committed an error, an Ombudsman may report the matter to those authorised to decide on such measures.
In the case of an individual with professional certification or some other license to practise a medical or dental profession, to retail pharmaceutical products, or to practise veterinary medicine, where grounds exist to order the revocation of such certification or license, an Ombudsman may submit a report to those authorised to order revocation of the qualification or the license. A similar request to limit the license of such certified professionals may be made when such an individual has abused his powers in some other way.
In the case of an individual with professional certification to practise a medical or dental profession, to retail pharmaceutical products, or to practise veterinary medicine, where grounds exist to order the revocation of such certification or license, the Ombudsman may request the imposition of a probationary period by those authorised to do so.
Section 23. Should an Ombudsman consider it necessary that an official be dismissed or suspended due to criminal acts or gross or repeated misconduct, the Ombudsman may report the matter to those authorised to decide on the measure.
Section 24. When an Ombudsman makes a report or request in a case as referred to in Sections 22 and 23, the Ombudsman shall be given the opportunity to supplement his or her investigation, to comment on other investigations in the case and to attend any questioning.
The first paragraph does not apply to cases of suspension.
Section 25. If an authority has decided against an official in a case involving application of special regulations in the law or other statutes concerning officials and matters of discipline, or dismissal or suspension due to criminal acts or misconduct, an Ombudsman may bring action in a court of law to seek to modify the decision. This also applies to decisions of an authority in cases concerning disciplinary measures against medical professionals, veterinary professionals, those serving in the armed forces or subject to discipline according to the Act on Discipline within Total Defence etc. (1994:1811) as well as decisions of an authority in cases concerning probationary periods or issues concerning licensing as referred to in Section 22. More detailed regulations about such an action are issued in law or other statute.
If an official, in accordance with the provisions in force, has applied to a court for modification of a decision as referred to in the above paragraph, and if the decision was made as a result of a report from an Ombudsman, the Ombudsman is to act on behalf of the public authority against the official in the dispute. This also applies if the Ombudsman has sought modification of the decision.
What is provided for employers by law or other statute shall also apply to an Ombudsman in respect of disputes referred to in this Section. The provisions in Chapter 4, Section 7 and Chapter 5, Section 1 first paragraph of the Act on Litigation in Labour Disputes (1974:371) are not, however, to apply in cases where the action is being brought by an Ombudsman.
Section 26. If there are grounds for suspecting that an official subject to the provisions on disciplinary measures of the Act on Official Employment (1994:260) is guilty of misconduct for which disciplinary measures should be brought, and if there is reason to suspect that he cannot, pursuant to Section 17 of that Act, be notified of the accusations against him within two years of the misconduct, then the Ombudsmen may issue an equivalent letter of notification.
The first paragraph also applies to those who are subject to provisions on disciplinary measures and equivalent letters of notification by virtue of other statutes.
Measures against officials without independent powers
Section 27. An Ombudsman should not invoke measures against a subordinate official with no independent powers, unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so.
Measures against certain officials
Section 28. An ombudsman is authorised by provisions in the Instrument of Government to bring charges against a member of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court, to bring an action to remove or suspend such a member from employment and to bring an action to require such a member to undergo a medical examination.
Section 29. Ombudsmen are obliged to initiate and prosecute those legal proceedings which the Committee on the Constitution has decided to institute against a Minister, pursuant to Chapter 13, Section 3 of the Instrument of Government, and also legal proceedings against officials within the Riksdag or its agencies decided by committees of the Riksdag, in accordance with the regulations, but not, however, legal proceedings against another Ombudsman.
An Ombudsman is also obliged to assist committees of the Riksdag in preliminary investigations concerning those officials cited in the previous paragraph and in investigations into circumstances which may justify removal an Auditor General from his or her assignment pursuant to provisions laid down in the second paragraph of Chapter 13, Article 7 of the Riksdag Act.
Complaints and case handling
Section 30. Complaints should be lodged in writing. The complaint should state which authority the complainant implicates, the action to which the complainant refers, the date of the action and the name and address of the complainant. The complainant should also attach to the complaint any documents of potential relevance to its investigation or assessment.
Any limitations placed on the right to send letters or other documents of a person who has been deprived of his or her liberty may not impede that individual’s ability to correspond with the Ombudsmen.
Consultation regarding inspections and investigations
Section 31. An Ombudsman is to consult the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman regarding the inspections he or she intends to carry out. An Ombudsman shall also consult the Chief Parlimentary Ombudsman regarding other investigations he or she intends to conduct, if there are special reasons for doing so.
Section 32. An Ombudsman should not consider circumstances over two years old, unless there are special reasons for doing so.
Section 33. An Ombudsman shall take such investigative measures as are deemed necessary to assess complaints and other matters.
Section 34. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman may, irrespective of what follows from the procedural regulations, and if there are special reasons for doing so, decide to reassign a case to himself or herself, or to any other Ombudsman.
Section 35. If an issue arising from a complaint can appropriately be investigated and appraised by an authority other than an Ombudsman, and if that authority has not previously reviewed the matter, an Ombudsman may refer the complaint to the authority for action. Only cases arising from a complaint may be referred to the Chancellor of Justice and only upon prior agreement.
If a complaint concerns an official who is a member of the Swedish Bar Association, and if the issue raised by the complaint is such that, pursuant to Chapter 8, Section 6 first paragraph of the Code of Judicial Procedure, it can be appraised by a body within the Bar Association, an Ombudsman may refer the complaint to the Association for action.
Special investigations into circumstances which may justify removal an Auditor General from his or her assignment pursuant to provisions laid down in Chapter 13, Article 7 second paragraph of the Riksdag Act may not be referred pursuant to the first paragraph.
Ordering and imposing fines
Section 36. When an Ombudsman, in accordance with the provisions of the Instrument of Government, requests information and statements in cases other than those in which it has been decided to institute a preliminary investigation, the Ombudsman may do so on penalty of fine not exceeding SEK 10,000. An Ombudsman may impose expired fines.
Section 37. A case shall be decided after presentation. However, the decision to reject or dismiss a case can be made without presentation. An Ombudsman may also reject or dismiss other cases without presentation where there are special reasons for doing so.
Return of documents
Section 38. Case documents may be returned to those who submitted them if this is appropriate with regard to general archival considerations. The document that is returned may be replaced by a copy or, if a copy cannot be made, by a note or other record regarding its content.
Section 39. An Ombudsman may assign another person to lead an investigation and bring a prosecution as ordered by the Ombudsman, unless these measures concern a member of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court.
A decision to appeal a judgment or a decision to a higher court may only be made by an Ombudsman.
In cases referred to in Section 25, an Ombudsman may appoint an official of the Secretariat to prosecute an action on behalf of the Ombudsman.
Section 40. An Ombudsman may delegate to an official of the Secretariat the responsibility to, on the Ombudsman’s behalf, both carry out an investigation and decide in a case arising from a complaint. Such delegation may not include the right to:
1. make representations pursuant to Section 13,
2. make statements pursuant to Section 20,
3. initiate an action against an official pursuant to Sections 21, 22 or 23,
4. refer a case to another authority pursuant to Section 35, or
5. make a decision in a case that is decided after written statements or written information has been obtained from the authority or official concerned.
An Ombudsman may delegate to an official of the Secretariat the responsibility for taking necessary procedural steps in cases.
Section 41. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman may, in the procedural regulations or through some other decision, delegate to the Administrative Director or other official of the Secretariat responsibility for decisions in administrative matters other than those regulated in Sections 4 and 6, Section 7, first paragraph and Section 34.
Section 42. The Head of Secretariat may delegate to an official of the Secretariat responsibility for decisions on behalf of the Head of Secretariat, if the terms of the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman’s delegation permit.
Report to the Riksdag
Section 43. The Ombudsmen are to submit, no later than 15 March each year, an annual report for the period 1 January-31 December of the previous year. This report is to contain an account of the actions which have been taken by virtue of Sections 13, 21-23 and 25, together with other decisions of weight issued by the Ombudsmen. The report is also to contain a overview of their activities in other respects.
Section 44. In connection with the submission of the annual report to the Riksdag, the Committee on the Constitution shall be given the opportunity to examine documents belonging to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
Section 45. The Administrative Procedure Act (SFS 2017:900) is not applicable to the Ombudsmen’s supervisory activities.
Section 46. Provisions on internal audits and governance and oversight are laid down in the Act containing Regulations on Financial Administration etc. for the Riksdag Authorities (2016:1091).
Section 47. Provisions concerning appeal against decisions in matters of appointment to posts or otherwise affecting Secretariat officials, are laid down in the Act on Appeal against Administrative Decisions by the Riksdag Administration and the Riksdag’s Agencies (1989:186).
1. This Act shall enter into force on 1 September 2023.
2. This act repeals the Act with Instructions for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen (1986:765).
3. The annual report to be submitted, pursuant to Section 43, to the Riksdag by 15 March 2024 shall also cover the period from 1 July to 31 December 2022.