The High Commissioner publishes its first annual report

The High Commissioner publishes its first annual report

09 July 2015

The High Commissioner for the Protection of Rights, Liberties and for Mediation is publishing this week its very first annual activity report, produced in accordance with Article 45 of Sovereign Ordinance no. 4.524 of 30 October 2013.  

The report, which was officially submitted to H.S.H. Prince Albert II several weeks ago, sets out how the High Commissioner – an independent rights protection and mediation body established by Sovereign Ordinance – conducts its work, and details its activities between March 2014 and March 2015, its first full year of operations.

With a total of 65 cases referred to the High Commissioner over the 12-month period, the initial figures reveal the public's growing interest in this new mechanism. These referrals reflect a greater need for constructive dialogue and support among citizens, and their expectations for a more transparent and personal relationship with the Administration. This, in turn, will help to ensure that individual cases are handled fairly.

The vast majority of the complaints referred to the High Commissioner during this first year involved government executive services. The many and varied cases handled by the High Commissioner covered matters such as employment, housing, health, education, finance and residence – in short, the full range of issues covered by the public authorities.However, the High Commissioner handled just five discrimination cases during the year, suggesting that further communication is required to promote this aspect and overcome the limited awareness among the general public of this distinctive competence of the institution. 

The report contains several practical examples of the new mediation body's ability to establish more peaceful and constructive relationships between the Administration and citizens. During its first year of operations, some two-thirds of the justified claims were settled amicably. This encouraging statistic demonstrates the respect that the new institution has enjoyed in its mediation and facilitation role. Despite these successes, a number of recommendations issued in individual rights cases have so far gone unheeded.

The High Commissioner has met with resistance in certain areas, and further adjustments to its working relationships with the Administration will be required to improve the efficiency of the mediation process. In particular, efforts will need to focus on reducing case handling time and engaging in closer dialogue with services and departments.  

The publication of this annual report also offers an opportunity to learn lessons from individual cases and to establish "best practice" recommendations for the Administration. The High Commissioner's key recommendations for this first year focus on improving transparency and fairness within administrative processes, for example by acknowledging receipt of requests from citizens, ensuring that all notifications addressed to citizens are duly received, providing clearer details of the appeals procedures available to citizens for unfavourable decisions, and ensuring that all applications for reconsideration are treated with due diligence. By addressing certain shortcomings in these areas, the Administration will be able to improve the quality of information provided to users, and enhance its communication in general.