The Public Defender of Rights
Public Defender of Rights > Mandate of the Public Defender of Rights

Mandate of the Public Defender of Rights

The Public Defender of Rights in the Czech Republic acts to defend persons against the conduct of authorities and other institutions exercising state administration, if the conduct:

  • is against the law
  • does not violate the law, but is otherwise defective or incorrect, and hence does not correspond to the principles of a democratic legal state and the principles of good administration
  • if these authorities are inactive

The Defender is authorised to deal with complaints against the activities of the following:

  • ministries and other administrative authorities having competence over the entire territory of the Czech Republic and the administrative authorities falling under their competence, 
  • territorial self-governing bodies (i.e. municipalities and Regions), but only in the exercise of state administration, i.e. not where they make decisions within their own competence (self-government),
  • the Czech National Bank to the extent as it acts as an administrative authority,
  • the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting,
  • the Police of the Czech Republic, with the exception of investigations where the Police act in criminal proceedings,
  • the Army of the Czech Republic and the Castle guard,
  • the Prison Service of the Czech Republic,
  • facilities performing custody, imprisonment, protective or institutional education, or protective treatment,
  • health insurance companies,
  • court bodies and public prosecutor’s bodies in the exercise of state administration (particularly concerning delays in proceedings, inactivity of courts and inappropriate behaviour of judges), but not against the actual decision of a court or public prosecutor.

The Defender may conduct independent inquiries but he cannot substitute for the activities of state administrative authorities and he cannot cancel or alter their decisions. However, when a shortcoming is ascertained, the Defender may request that authorities or institutions ensure remedy.

The Defender may also open an inquiry on his own initiative (for example on the basis of information in the media).

Since 2006, the Defender has been exercising supervision over compliance with the rights of persons restricted in their freedom. He performs systematic preventive visits to facilities where persons are or may be confined on the basis of a decision or an order of a public authority (e.g. a court) or on the grounds of dependence on the care provided (particularly based on age, health condition, social circumstances, etc.). These places include, for example, police cells, prisons, asylum facilities, institutes for long-term patients, facilities for elderly people, mental homes, institutional education facilities, etc.

In 2008 the Defender was given special powers in the area of state court administration – the right to propose commencement of disciplinary proceedings against presiding judges and deputy presiding judges of courts if they breach the obligations associated with the discharge of their office.

Upon approval of the Antidiscrimination Act in 2009 the Defender became a body assisting victims of discrimination.

In 2018 the Defender became the monitoring body under the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

The aforementioned legal definition of his mandate does not give the Defender the right to enter private-law relationships or disputes (including disputes between employees and employers, even if the employer is a state authority). Complaints about discriminatory conduct are the only exception – in these cases the Defender may intervene also in the private-law sphere.

The Defender also cannot intervene in the decision-making of courts, he is not a body of appeal against their decisions and he is not authorised to intervene in the activities of expressly specified institutions:

  • Courts of all instances and types in their decision-making powers,
  • The decision-making activities of public prosecutors,
  • Parliament, the President of the Republic and the Government,
  • The Supreme Audit Office, 
  • The intelligence services of the Czech Republic,
  • Prosecuting bodies.
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