Forty new “ombudsman” offices have been created in provincial cities and districts across the Kingdom, with more expected to come, following a prime ministerial sub-decree signed last week.
The local citizen’s offices aim to solve out-of-court complaints brought against the public service at the sub-national level, with each district eventually slated to have its own office.
“The city and district citizen offices have the rights and powers to use staff, budget, materials and other means for implementing action . . . and to investigate complaints that fall under their authorisation,” the sub-decree reads.
Their authority will, however, be strictly limited.
They can “raise advice about the solution measures, but have no right to make final decisions, to take action, to solve problems or to punish”.
Chan Sothea, deputy head of the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development, said the offices were to be led by an elected district council member, with a civil society officer and vendor representatives also represented in each body.
“When people are unhappy with the city or district administration, or sub-national administration, they can file a complaint to the sub-national citizen’s office and it will be investigated [and they will try to reach a compromise],” he said.
Those complaints could deal with anything from the issuing of documents to budget spending to police behaviour, he said.
“They investigate after they receive the complaint and make a report [to send] to a police officer’s unit, [which can then] punish the officer,” he said, by way of example. “They are not the court . . . they have no rights to judge who loses or wins.”