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The Treatment of Citizens' Complaints in the Justice Field: Is an Ombudsman Necessary?

Author:

Hélène Pauliat

Abstract

For some years, France has searched for ways to control abuses in the judicial system. In the “Affaire d’Outreau,” indictment, detention pending trial and conviction was delivered to innocent men and women, just because of witness evidence, which had not been verified by the investigating judge; the resulting public criticism made the French parliament reorganize the judicial organisation. This case intensified the crisis of confidence (which already existed) French citizens in the justice system. The Minister of Justice has not played an important role in curbing abuses, but the Superior Council of the Magistrates (CSM) has dealt with disciplinary prosecutions. Thus, the question remains whether it is possible to create a single institution to handle citizen complaints regarding the malfunctioning of judicial institutions, and various issues arise. Should the Mediator (the institution for complaints against executive institutions of the French state, which is the French equivalent of an Ombudsman) or a special Ombudsman for justice organisations, including courts handle these complaints? Should the CSM be given wider powers? France attempted to address these issues through a law on the responsibility of magistrates. However, this effort was a failure because the text was imprecise (so that the Conseil Constitutionnel censored some clauses) and elaborated without consultation.

How to Cite: Pauliat, H., (2008). The Treatment of Citizens' Complaints in the Justice Field: Is an Ombudsman Necessary?. International Journal for Court Administration. 1(2), pp.33–42. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijca.101
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Published on 15 Oct 2008.
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