Did you know?


Is it Ombudsman, Ombudswoman or Ombudsperson? And what happens when we have a roomful of them?

The word “Ombudsman” was imported into English and other languages from Old Norse (Scandinavia), in a worldwide move to provide a defender of the citizen against the maladministration of the state. It is a non-gender word and despite what many believe, it is definitely not sexist!

The “Man” part of the Swedish word means ‘agent’, or ‘one who protects the citizen’. It follows therefore that the plural of Ombudsman remains quite simply Ombudsman. The word “Ombudsmen” is definitely out because it brings gender into the word, and corrupts it too, since the female version may shun being called Ombudswoman and insist on the androgynous Ombudsperson instead.

An excellent reason to retain Ombudsman. Full stop!

Besides, the word has become much more than a name for people around the world, including Seychelles. An independent, non-adversarial and impartial institution established under Article 143 of our Constitution to investigate grievances brought by individuals against the adverse effect on them of particular actions or decisions of public authorities of the State, it is now synonymous with the citizens’ defender against the State. The Constitutionally-appointed Ombudsman is accessible and free to the public and has become a symbol of fair play and justice in relation to resolving grievances involving the State.

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