Duties and authority of the Ombudsman for Children
The Ombudsman for Children assesses and promotes the realisation of the rights of children in Finland. The Ombudsman ensures that the position and rights of children are taken into account in legislation and social decision-making. The Ombudsman is building a good and fair society for children together with other parties. Together with the Ombudsman for Children, the experts working in the Office of the Ombudsman for Children promote the rights of children.
The Ombudsman for Children is an autonomous and independent authority established under the Act on the Ombudsman for Children 1221/2004 (FINLEX). The work is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (FINLEX) (SopS 59-60/1991). On the administrative level, the Ombudsman for Children operates in connection with the Ministry of Justice.
The following duties have been assigned to the Ombudsman for Children in legislation:
- monitoring the realisation of rights and well-being of children and young people
- influencing decision-makers from the perspective of children
- communicating with children and young people and forwarding information received from them to the decision-makers
- forwarding information on children to the authorities, the parties working with children, and the rest of the population
- developing cooperation between the actors involved in child policy
- promoting the realisation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Ombudsman for Children reports annually to the Government on the realisation of the rights and well-being of children and young people as well as any deficiencies found in the legislation (Lapsen etua etsimässä. In Finnish; Annual Report by the Ombudsman for Children in Finland 2020). In addition, the Ombudsman for Children reports to the Finnish Parliament every four years, and at the same time, the Ombudsman also reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Authority of the Ombudsman for Children
The Ombudsman for Children promotes the realisation of the rights and best interest of children on a general societal level. The Ombudsman is not competent to act in matters related to individual children or families. The Ombudsman cannot comment on such matters or change the decisions made by other authorities. However, the Ombudsman can raise issues based on individual phenomena that are important with regard to children’s rights and would be otherwise left unnoticed in social discussion and decision-making.
In Finland, the Parliamentary Ombudsman (oikeusasiamies.fi/en/) monitors the realisation of the rights of children. The Ombudsman monitors the legality of the authorities’ actions mainly by investigating complaints filed with the Ombudsman. Children and young people can also file a complaint with the Ombudsman.
- Instructions on how to file a complaint with the Ombudsman (oikeusasiamies.fi/en/)
- Contact information related to services for families and children as well as their legal protection
How does the Ombudsman for Children influence matters?
Among other things, the Ombudsman for Children influences matters by making initiatives, stating opinions and participating in social discussion. The Ombudsman assesses pending public administration projects from the perspective of children’s rights and makes initiatives to start necessary changes. The Ombudsman for Children also publishes various kinds of reports and opinions on topical themes.
The Ombudsman for Children builds connections between different parties through network meetings, various kinds of discussions and other events. Partners include other authorities, municipalities, regions, researchers, organisations, religious communities, companies as well as other child policy actors and experts in the field. The Ombudsman for Children is supported by the Child Advisory Board, the members of which are appointed from different stakeholders.
One important starting point for the advocacy work of the Ombudsman for Children is the children’s experiences and opinions, which the Ombudsman’s office finds out with the help of the young advisers and the Child Barometer, among other things. The Ombudsman for Children visits children, young people and those who work with them, and meets parties interested in promoting the rights of children.