Belize Ombudsman Reports Over 100 Complaints, Plans Mobile Clinics and Ombuds Day

Belize Ombudsman Reports Over 100 Complaints, Plans Mobile Clinics and Ombuds Day

Retired Major Gilbert Suazo has reported more than one hundred complaints filed with his office since his taking over of the Office of the Ombudsman.  Aside from improving the reception of the office, the Ombudsman has announced plans to hold mobile clinics across the country, to better facilitate the citizens.  Another initiative being taken is the observation of Ombuds Day on October 12.  

Herman Gilbert Swaso, Ombudsman: “Since 2018 however we in Belize have not started to celebrate Ombudsday. So this year we will be celebrating Ombuds Day and across the world it is used as a day to bring awareness about the roles and responsibilities of the Ombudsman, and to encourage others to utilize the services of the Ombudsman because the Ombudsman obviously is there for the protection of human rights and also to ensure that good governance and accountability across the government sector is maintained and ensured. We are of the firm view that we have to ensure that the office has to appear to be independent, confidential in everything that we do because the integrity office cannot be compromised in any way or form.”

Troy Gabb, Host, The Morning Show: In terms of your staff size or cadre of personnel availability to assist you. What’s the size of your office right now?

Herman Gilbert Swaso, Ombudsman: “Well, we do have a secretary, so the three that I mentioned principally, right, plus myself. So we are the principal officer that will be conducting the investigation, whether individually or collectively.”

According to Ombudsman Suazo, the complaints received at his office, ranging from land disputes and abuse of authority.

Herman Gilbert Swaso, Ombudsman: “We saw, comparing to the last two years that the office was operational at that time, that for the last two years respectively it was around 90 to 106 cases. And up to that point we have surpassed that and we are close to 150 cases as we speak today. So while it can be better we believe that the level of awareness needs to be heightened. But we are doing the best that we can given the circumstances so that people can become aware that this office is here to serve. There is a wide cross section of cases that we are handling. The police is close at the second at this side.”

Troy Gabb, Host, The Morning Show:  Who is first, Lands ? 

Herman Gilbert Swaso, Ombudsman: “Well, Lands, the cases of Lands are certainly increasing. And then we do have incidents where people are not getting their terminal benefit or retirement benefit on time as well. And there are some issues that are bordering, like when people believe that they are not being served justice through the legal system as well. So those are some of the cases that we are seeing that are becoming more prevalent. And certainly the office of the Ombudsman does not refuse anyone in any way or form. So we have to listen to what your complaint is. And we’ve seen where when we are doing our preliminaries, we then ascertain that some of them do not fall within the limits of the Ombudsman. However, we still advise legally some process for them to take just for us to ensure that they can get some form of justification for the complaint that they are making.”

Retired Major Suazo took over as Ombudsman in February this year.

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