The Act with Instructions for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen (Lag [1986:765] med instruktion för Riksdagens ombudsmän – ”JO-instruktionen”)
issued 13 November 1986, revised 1 January 2019 by SFS 2018:1905.
Pursusant to the decision of the Riksdag the following has been determined.
1 § In accordance with 13.2 of the Riksdag Act, there are four Ombudsmen: a Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and three Parliamentary Ombudsmen. In addition to this, there may be one or more Deputy Ombudsmen.
The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Parliamentary Ombudsmen are to supervise, to the extent laid down in Article 2, that those who exercise public authority are to obey the laws and other statutes and fulfil their obligations in other respects.
2 § Those supervised by the Ombudsmen are
- state and municipal authorities,
- officials and other employees of these authorities,
- other individuals whose employment or assignment involves the exercise of public authority, insofar as this aspect of their activities is concerned,
- 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
Where officers in the armed forces are concerned, however, this supervision extends only to commissioned officers with the rank of second lieutenant or above, and to those of corresponding rank.
The supervision of the Ombudsmen does not extend to
- members of the Riksdag,
- the Riksdag Board of Administration, the Riksdag’s Election Review Board, the Riksdag’s Complaints Board or the Clerk of the Chamber,
- members of the Governing Board of the Riksbank, 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),
- the Government or Ministers,
- the Chancellor of Justice, and
- members of municipal and county cuncil assemblies.
An Ombudsman is not subject to the supervision of any other Ombudsman.
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.
3 § The Ombudsmen are to ensure in particular that the courts and public authorities in the course of their activities obey the injunction of the Instrument of Government regarding objectivity and impartiality and that the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens are not encroached upon in public administration.
In supervision of municipal authorities the Ombudsmen are to take into consideration the forms taken by municipal self-determination.
4 § The Ombudsmen are to contribute to remedying shortcomings in legislation. If, during the course of their supervisory activities, reason is given to raise the question of amending legislation or of some other measure by the State, an Ombudsman may then make such representations to the Riksdag pursuant to the supplementary provisions laid down in 9.17.5 of the Riksdag Act or to the Government.
A Parliamentary Ombudsman is to consult the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman before making the representations referred to in the above paragraph.
5 § Supervision is exercised by the Ombudsmen in reviewing complaints made by the public and through inspections and such other inquiries as the Ombudsmen may find necessary. The Ombudsmen are to consult the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman on the inspections and other inquiries they intend to carry out.
5 a § The Parliamentary 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. Act (2011:340)
6 § The Ombudsmen conclude cases in a decision, in which an opinion is stated as to whether a measure taken by an authority or an official is in breach of the law or some other statute, or is otherwise erroneous or inappropriate. The Ombudsmen may also make statements intended to promote uniform and appropriate application of the law.
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 inquiry into a case gives an Ombudsman reason to believe that such a criminal offence has been committed, the stipulations in the law concerning preliminary judicial inquiries, prosecution and waiver of prosecution are to apply, together with those regarding the powers otherwise afforded to prosecutors in criminal cases subject to public prosecution. Cases brought before a district court are to be pursued to the Supreme Court only if there are exceptional grounds for doing so.
If proceedings can be taken by means 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 empowered to decide on such measures. In the case of an individual with professional certification or some other authorisation entitling him to practise within the medical profession, as a dentist, or in retail trade in pharmaceutical products, or as a veterinary surgeon, who has displayed gross incompetence in his professional activities or shown himself in some other way to be obviously unsuitable to practise, an Ombudsman may submit a report to those who have the authority to decide on the revocation of the qualification or the authorisation. A similar request for limitation of the scope of the qualification may be made when somebody with such qualifications has abused his powers in some other way. If an individual with professional certification or some other authorisation entitling him to practise within the medical profession, as a dentist, or in retail trade in pharmaceutical products, has displayed incompetence in his professional activities or shown himself in some other way unsuitable to practise his profession, the Ombudsman may request the imposition of a probationary period of those who have the authority to make such a decision.
Should an Ombudsman consider it necessary that the official be dismissed or temporarily deprived of his office because of criminal acts or gross or repeated misconduct, the Ombudsman may report the matter to those empowered to decide on such a measure.
When an Ombudsman has made a report of the kind referred to in the two preceding paragraphs, he or she is to be given the opportunity to supplement his or her own inquiry into the case, and to submit an opinion on any inquiry into the case carried out by some other person, as well as the right to be present if oral questioning occurs. This is not to apply, however, if the case concerns temporary deprival of office.
7 § 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 temporary deprival of office because of criminal acts or misconduct, an Ombudsman may refer the case to a court of law for amendment of the decision. This is also to apply to the decision of an authority in a case concerning disciplinary measures against medical or hospital staff, veterinary surgeons, 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 the decision of an authority in cases concerning probationary periods or issues concerning certification of the kind referred to in the third paragraph of Article 6. More detailed regulations about such referral are issued in the form of law or some other statute.
If an official, in accordance with the stipulations in force, has applied to a court for amendment of a decision of the kind 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 against the official during the dispute. This is also to apply if the Ombudsman has sought amendment of the decision.
The stipulations of laws or other statutes applying to employers are, where disputes referred to in this paragraph are concerned, to apply correspondingly to the Ombudsmen. The stipulations in 4.7 and the first paragraph of 5.1 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.
8 § An Ombudsman should not invoke measures against a subordinate official with no independent powers, unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so.
9 § The powers of an Ombudsman to initiate legal proceedings against a member of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court or to press for the dismissal or deprival of office of such an official, or to require the official to submit to medical examination are laid down in the Instrument of Government.
10 § The Ombudsmen are obliged to initiate and prosecute those legal proceedings which the Committee on the Constitution has decided to institute against a Minister, in accordance with 13.3 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 inquiries concerning those officials cited in the previous paragraph and in inquiries into factors that may be used to separate an Auditor General from their appointed assignment pursuant to provisions laid down in the second paragraph of 13.7 of the Riksdag Act.
11 § The Ombudsmen are to submit no later than 15 November each year a printed report on the discharge of their office covering the period from 1 July of the preceding year until the following 30 June. This report is to contain an account of the actions which have been taken by virtue of paragraph 1 of Article 4, paragraphs 2–4 of Article 6, and Article 7, together with other significant decisions published by the Ombudsmen. The report is also to contain a survey of their activities in other respects.
12 § In accordance with 13.2 of the Riksdag Act, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is the administrative head and decides on the overall direction of the office of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is accountable to the Riksdag for these operations 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 use public funding economically.
After consultation with the other Parliamentary Ombudsmen the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to issue regulations in the form of administrative directives on the organisation of the Ombudsmen’s operations and the areas of responsibility for each one of them, adopt an operational plan and also decide on the annual report and propose an appropriation in the national budget for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
Provisions on internal audits and mangament and control are laid down in the Act containing Regulations on Financial Administration etc. for the Riksdag Authorities (2016:1091).
13 § A secretariat i provided (Ombudsmannaexpedition). This employs an Administrative Director, Heads of Division and other administrative staff in accordance with its staff register. To the extent needed, and insofar as funds are available, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman may appoint other staff, experts and referees. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to decide on the duties assigned to the staff.
The Administrative Director, who is accountable to the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman, is to direct the work of the secretariat and is otherwise to provide the Ombudsmen with the assistance they may require.
14 § In addition to these instructions and those laid down in his administrative directives, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to issue the rules and regulations needed for the work of the secretariat.
The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to consult the Committee on the Constitution on organisational issues of major importance.
Before initiating consultation with the Committee on the Constitution, an Ombudsman is to consult the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman.
15 § Irrespective of the import of the administrative directives, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman may make a specific decision allocating a particular case or group of cases to himself or one of the other Ombudsmen.
In addition, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman may in the administrative directives or through some other decision authorise
- officials within the Ombudsmen’s secretariat to take measures in preparing a case;
- the Administrative Director to make administrative decisions, but not however concerning the appointment of heads of division.
The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is to decide whether a Deputy Ombudsman is to serve as an Ombudsman. A Deputy Ombudsmen may be appointed to serve if an Ombudsman is prevented by a considerable period of illness or on some other special grounds from performing his duties, or if a need arises for the services of a Deputy Ombudsman for some other reason.
16 § When the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman is on holiday or is prevented from discharging his duties, the Ombudsman with the longest period of service is to act as his deputy. If two or more of the Ombudsmen have served for the same length of time, the oldest is to take precedence.
17 § Complaints should be made in writing. The written complaint should indicate which authority the complaint is made about, the action which the complainant is referring to, the date of the action, together with the name and address of the complainant. If the complainant possesses a document which is of significance in dealing with and assessing the case, this should be appended.
A person who has been deprived of his liberty may write to the Ombudsmen, without being prevented by the restrictions on sending letters and other documents which may apply to him.
At the complainant’s request, confirmation is to be issued by the secretariat of receipt of the complaint.
General regulations about the treatment of cases
18 § If an issue arising from a complaint is of such a nature that it can appropriately be investigated and appraised by an authority other than the Ombudsman, and if that authority has not previously reviewed the matter, an Ombudsman may refer the complaint to the authority for action. Only cases raised as the result of a complaint may, however, be referred to the Chancellor of Justice and only after 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 it can, in accordance with the fourth paragraph of 8.6 of the Code of Judicial Procedure, be appraised by a body within the Bar Association, an Ombudsman may refer the complaint to the Association for action.
An inquiry into factors that may be used to separate an Auditor General from their appointed assignment, pursuant to the second paragraph of 13.7 of the Riksdag Act may not be referred in accordance with the first paragraph.
19 § An Ombudsman shall inform a complainant without delay as to whether his complaint has been rejected, filed, referred to some other authority, in accordance with Article 18, or has been made the subject of an inquiry.
20 § An Ombudsman should not initiate inquiries into circumstances which date back two or more years, unless there are exceptional grounds for doing so.
21 § An Ombudsman is to carry out the investigative measures required in appraising complaints and other cases.
When the Ombudsmen, in accordance with the stipulations of the Instrument of Government, request information and statements in cases other than those in which it has been decided to institute a preliminary inquiry, they may do so on penalty of fine not exceeding SEK 10,000. The Ombudsmen may impose such a penalty, if incurred.
If there are ground for suspecting that an official subject to the regulations about disciplinary measures in the Act on Official Employment (1994:260), is guilty of misconduct for which disciplinary measures should be invoked, and there is reason to fear that a written caution, as laid down in the Article 17 of that Act, cannot be issued to him within two years of the misconduct, the Ombudsmen may issue a corresponding caution. This provision is also to apply to those who, by virtue of other statutes, are also subject to regulations on disciplinary measures and to cautions and corresponding notification.
22 § An Ombudsman may authorise some other person to administer an inquiry which she or he has decided to initiate and to institute and prosecute legal proceedings she or he has decided on, 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 superior court may only be made by an Ombudsman.
In cases referred to in Article 7, an Ombudsman may appoint an official on the Ombudsmen’s staff to prosecute the legal proceedings on behalf of the Ombudsman.
In cases referred to in the third and fourth paragraphs of Article 6, an Ombudsman may authorise officials on the Ombudsmen’s staff to undertake the procedural measures required.
An Ombudsman may through a special decision authorise an official on the staff of the Ombudsmen’s secretariat both to carry out an inspection as well as make a decision in a case arising from a complaint on the Ombudsman’s behalf. Such authorisation may not include the right to
- make representations pursuant to the first paragraph of Article 4,
- make statements pursuant to the first paragraph of Article 6,
- initiate action against an official pursuant to the second, third or fourth paragraphs of Article 6,
- refer a case to another authority pursuant to Article 18, or
- make a decision in a case that is decided after written statements or written information has been requested from the authority or official concerned.
23 § Cases are concluded after oral presentation, for which an official on the staff of the Ombudsmen’s secretariat or specially appointed for the task is responsible. Decisions to reject a case or file it, can, however, be made without such presentation. An Ombudsman may also conclude other cases without oral presentation if there are particular grounds for doing so.
Documents that have been submitted to the Parliamentary Ombudsman in connection with a case may not be returned until the case has been concluded. If in such a case an authority is deprived of the original document, this may be returned subject to the submission of a certified copy of the document.
24 § A journal is to be kept for all cases and for the actions taken in connection with them.
Documentary records for every decision are to be kept at the Ombudsmen’s secretariat showing who made the decision, who was responsible for the oral presentation and the date and content of the decision.
A register is to be kept of specially designated decisions. Written records are to be kept during inspections and when needed for other reasons.
25 § When the annual report is submitted to the Riksdag, journals, written records and registers covering the same period are to be presented at the same time to the Committee on the Constitution.
26 § The Ombudsmen’s secretariat is to be open to the public during the hours determined by the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman.
27 § Documents are to be provided free of charge, unless otherwise justified for special reasons.
If a charge is to be made, it should be fixed according to the regulations in force for public authorities in general.
No appeal may be made against a decision to impose a charge.
The revenue from charges is at the disposal of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
28 § The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman appoints officials within the Ombudsmen’s secretariat and other staff, insofar as he has not delegated these tasks, as laid down in Article 15, to the Administrative Director.
29 § Regulations concerning appeal against decisions in matters of appointment to posts or otherwise affecting staff within the Ombudsmen’s secretariat, are laid down in the Act on Appeal against Administrative Decisions by the Riksdag Administration and the Riksdag’s Agencies (1989:186).