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The Polish Ombudsman (Polish: Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich, literally Advocate for Citizens' Rights, now referring to itself in English as the "Human Rights Defender," often abbreviated RPO) is an independent central office of the Republic of Poland. The office was first established on January 1, 1988. Its functioning is regulated by the Constitution and an act of Polish parliament (Sejm) from July 15, 1987. The office is accredited as Poland's national human rights institution.
Responsibilities and powers of the Polish Ombudsman
Polish law entrusts the ombudsman with four responsibilities with respect to citizen rights:
The ombudsman, deputies and the office protect freedom and rights of the people. They monitor current events. In case they find that due to intentional actions (or lack thereof) by agencies, organizations or institutions which are duty bound to respect freedoms and rights of the people, these freedoms and rights were violated, they undertake action. In such cases, they can act on behalf of the people in courts. The office can undertake such actions only if a thorough analysis of the situation shows that the rights or the freedoms of the people were infringed, and only if such analysis recognizes the need for the ombudsman to be involved in a case. The people have right to ask the ombudsman for intervention.
Election, recall and term of office
- The ombudsman is elected by an act of Sejm and has to be accepted by the Senate.
- The term of office is five years long and the same person cannot hold the office more than twice.
- Sejm has the right to recall the ombudsman with 3/5 majority before the end of term.
List of Polish Ombudsmen:
- Ewa Łętowska (November 19, 1987 - February 12, 1992)
- Tadeusz Zieliński (February 13, 1992 - May 7, 1996)
- Adam Zieliński (May 8, 1996 - June 29, 2000)
- Andrzej Zoll (June 30, 2000 - January 27, 2006)
- Janusz Kochanowski (January 27, 2006 - April 10, 2010)
- Irena Lipowicz (July 21, 2010 - )
Dr Kochanowski died in office, as a result of the Smolensk air disaster.