Frequently Asked Questions
The Office of the Complaints Commission is informal, free, and accessible to all the residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Any individual or group may submit a complaint to the Complaints Commissioner (Ombudsman).
Some of the questions that the Ombudsman considers include whether the Government (Departments, Boards, etc) followed appropriate laws, policies and processes in clear, consistent, and fair ways.The office will only seek to address complaints of an improper nature which include:
- Grievances and conflicts in the workplace
- Performance issues
- Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age and etc.
- Harassment and corrupt conduct
- Maladministration matters
This is when a Government Department or Authority makes a wrong decision, acts outside its statutory authority and fails to take required action. Some examples are:
- Unnecessary delays, bias, negligence
- Failure to follow proper procedures
- Wrong decisions and improper service
A complainant must first try to have his/her grievances resolved by the department or agency involved.
If the department or agency fails to handle the complaint in a professional manner or no satisfactory resolution was reached then a complaint can be submitted to the Complaints Commissioner.
The Office will not accept or address any grievances for investigation concerning the following persons or bodies as laid out under the Constitution in Schedule 1, Section 4 of the Complaints Commission (Ombudsman) Ordinance 2015:
- The Governor
- House of Assembly
- The Chief Justice and any Judge of the Supreme Court and any Judge of the
- Court of appeal
- The Magistrate
- The Police
- The Chief Auditor and staff
Complaints concerning policies made by Cabinet or any Minister, actions concerning international relations between the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and any other Government or institution, employment matters such as appointments, removals, pay and discipline are all outside the jurisdiction of the Complaints Commissioner.
Actions taken by the appropriate authorities to investigate crime or to protect national security are also barred form investigations.
The Office also notes the “matters not subject to investigation” as stipulated in Schedule 2, Section 5 of Ordinance which is as follows:
Action taken in matters certified by the Government to affect relations or dealings between the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and any other Government or any institutional organization of states of Government.
Action taken by the Attorney General under the Extradition Act of 1870 or the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967.
Action taken by or within the authority of the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Immigration, or the Director of Customs for the purposes of investigating crimes or of protecting the security of the Turks and Caicos Islands, including action so taken with respect to passports.
The commencement or conduct of civil or criminal proceedings before any court of law in the Turks and Caicos Islands, or of proceedings before any international court or tribunal.
Action taken in respect of appointments or removals, pay, discipline or other personal matters other than superannuation (retirement) in relation to:
Service in any Office or employment under the Government; or
Service in any office or employment, or under any contract for services, in respect of which powers to take action, or to determine or approve the action to be taken, in such matters is vested in the Government.
In carrying out investigations the Commissioner has the same powers as a Magistrate sitting in the Magistrate’s Court. The Commissioner has the authority to enter and inspect the premises of any department of Government or public authority; to call for, examine, make copies of and, where necessary retain any document kept on such premises.
The Commissioner does not, however, have authority to enforce his or her recommendations upon the conclusion of an investigation.
Obstructing the Complaints Commissioner and his or her staff in conducting an investigation is a crime.
Any individual, group of persons or corporations may lodge a complaint with the Commissioner.
A complaint must be submitted no later than 24 months from the day on which the person aggrieved first had notice of the matters alleged in the complaint.
Upon receipt of complaint the Office will inform the complainant of the decision as to whether or not an investigation will be launched.
There are numerous ways to file your complaint. Complaints can be filed privately and must usually be in writing addressed to the Complaints Commissioner.
Written complaints can be sent by email, mail or delivered in person to our Office. You must Complete a complaint form and submit all relevant documents along with your letter of complaint.
Forms are available in our Office:
Tony Clarke’s Building
Or can be sent upon request via email.
The Complaints Commissioner (Ombudsman) Ordinance 2015 stipulates that:
“All complaints must be in writing and should be made not later than twenty-four (24) months from the day on which the person aggrieved first had notice of the matters alleged in the complaint”
Complaints can me submitted in person at our Office, by fax or by email.
Upon receipt of complaint, it will be carefully and thoroughly scrutinized then investigated to obtain substantial evidence from documents and witnesses that will be interviewed from both parties involved in the most confidential manner, without prejudice, to promote justice within the Public Service.
Categories of Complaints
Inquiries – anything that is not within the jurisdiction of the OCC – for example, all matters contained in Schedule 2 of the Complaints Commissioner Law 2006.
Complaints – anything that is within the jurisdiction of the OCC, regardless of how the complaint was made. This would include matters that are potentially within OCC jurisdiction but are premature, or haven’t gone through the ICP process.
A complaint comes in and is logged by the Investigative Officer and assigned a Case Number. The Investigative Officer informs the Commissioner of the facts of the case, once the Commissioner has all of the facts from the Investigator, the Commissioner decides if this is a matter we will investigate and gives the go ahead for the Investigation.
Once the go ahead has been given by the Commissioner, the Investigator will prepare and send out a Notice of Investigation, or ‘opening’ letter, signed by the Commissioner to the Government entity against which the complaint is lodged, and will also email the complainant to let them know that we will be investigating their complaint and updating them shortly. A Notice of Investigation should be sent out during the same week that the Commissioner makes a decision that the matter will be investigated.
Once a Notice of Investigation has been sent out to the Government entity, Investigators can then begin booking meetings, interviews etc. in regards to the Investigation. A copy of the Notice is also placed on the case file. Except in the most straightforward of complaints, a preliminary meeting should take place between the Investigator and the entity complained of, and the Investigator and the complainant, as early in the process as possible.
The Complainant should be kept updated on the progress of their complaint. This is usually done via email by the Investigator.
Where appropriate, the OCC might send out a “minded” or provisional decision, letter to the government entity involved – for example, in the case of more serious investigations, or Special Reports (see below)
Once an Investigation has been completed, a ‘Closing Letter’ must be prepared by the Investigator for the Commissioner’s signature. One is sent to the Government entity and the other to the Complainant. Both must be sent within a week of the investigation being concluded. (These letters are usually a mirror copy of each other).
If the Investigation has ‘Closed’ with Recommendations to a Government entity, the OCC will monitor the recommendations for compliance. A monitoring notice is placed on the Case file.
Once all Recommendations have been substantially complied with, a Compliance letter is prepared by the Investigator, signed by the Commissioner, and sent out to the Government entity.
If Recommendations have not been complied with within one year (or longer, if the Commissioner deems it appropriate), the Investigative Officer will prepare a ‘Special Report’ regarding non-compliance with the recommendations made following an investigation. This Special Report is signed by the Commissioner and sent to the Speaker of the House of Assembly for Tabling. This then becomes a public document.
From time to time, there are issues that come to the attention of the Complaints Commission that are serious and may have a potential widespread impact on the residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands. In such circumstances the Commissioner may decide to conduct an Investigation of her Own Motion – i.e., one that is not necessarily generated by a specific complaint. The investigation is lengthy and labour-intensive, and the resulting detailed Report is intended to lead to systemic and long-term change with regard to the government entity in question and how they impact the public.
This will mostly arise with Own Motion Investigations and, unless in exceptional circumstances, will only be dealt with by the Commissioner.
At the launch of an Own Motion Investigation, the Commissioner will issue a press release to go to all media.
On the day of the press release and up to 2 days thereafter the Commissioner will grant interviews.
When an OMI or Special Report is published and laid in the House of Assembly, the Commissioner will issue a brief press release simply stating this fact, so that the general public can be made aware that the Commission has completed its work.
Once a Special Report has been laid before the House of Assembly, or once an OMI Report has been made to the House of Assembly, the Commissioner if she chooses can issue a full press release and conduct interviews in accordance with bullet points 1 and 2 above.
The Commissioner reserves the right to make a statement to the media on the contents of the report without it having been so laid.