Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The Governor-General, Her Excellency Dame Marcella Liburd GCMG, JP, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, has designated Reverend Bishop Cyprian Williams to act as Ombudsman. Bishop Williams will operate initially, as of March 20, 2023, from the Integrity Commission’s Office on the 2nd Floor of the Delisle Walwyn Building, Liverpool Row, Basseterre, St Kitts.
The Government considers the presence of an Ombudsman as an important element of its Good Governance Transformation.
“The Government has committed to the people of our Federation that we will govern with transparency and accountability. The installation of an Acting Ombudsman is another key element of our Good Governance Transformation. Our people have not had the ability to seek assistance from an Ombudsman for six (6) years, since 2017, and we have moved swiftly to reintroduce this important democratic institution,” said Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew.
The Ombudsman is empowered by statute to investigate any administrative action of a government authority for the purpose of deciding whether there is evidence of maladministration on the part of the authority and to make recommendations, pursuant to an investigation, to the authority concerning any administrative action that formed the subject of the investigation and, generally, about ways of improving its administrative practices and procedures.
Bishop Williams expressed his pleasure to begin acting as Ombudsman and stated that he is “committed to serving our people in a professional, independent manner. I am charged with investigating actions or decisions taken by or on behalf of any government authority in the exercise of its administrative functions—any failure to make a decision or to do an act, including a failure to provide reasons for a decision, any recommendation, and any action taken because of a recommendation, or a failure to make a recommendation. I will take this role seriously.”
Maladministration means inefficient, bad, or improper administration and includes unreasonable delay in dealing with the subject matter of an investigation, abuse of any power, or administrative action that is contrary to law—unfair, oppressive or discriminatory, or based on procedures that are unfair, oppressive or discriminatory, based wholly or partly on a mistake of law or fact or irrelevant grounds; or related to the application of arbitrary or unreasonable procedures, or negligence.
Bishop Williams has undertaken to lead an education campaign throughout St Kitts and Nevis, to bring awareness to the general public about the functions and role of an ombudsman.
The Government has also expressed its interest in proposing amendments to the Ombudsman Act to strengthen the Ombudsman’s Office.