The votes by the Plenary of the House have mandated its Committee on Judiciary to review the instrument and report on Tuesday, 13 June.
On Tuesday, June 6th, majority members of the Liberian Senate passed the Act and sent it to the House of Representative for concurrence.
It is by law that both Houses concurred in the passage of the “Act” before a longstanding disagreement appears to have slowed the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman, though the President had earlier nominated officials to run the office for the implementation of the Code of Conduct.
The part in contention is Part V of the Code of Conduct that sparked serious argument among the lawmakers, which prohibits presidential appointees from partaking in any political activities while still in appointed offices.
According to the Act, members of the Ombudsman shall hold office for two 3-year terms following appointment by the President and confirmation by the Senate, and shall be removed from office by the President for nonfeasance, malfeasance, misfeasance and criminal acts as prescribed under existing laws and regulations.
For the law, the Office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to conduct hearings in a quasi-judicial manner and make findings, give reasons and conclusions in matters filed before it, while appeals from a decision of the Office of the Ombudsman relative to violations of the Code of Conduct shall be immediately appealable to the relevant courts of Liberia.
"No person who files a complaint or participate in any investigation or proceeding pursuant to Chapter 12.6 shall be subject to any penalties, sanctions or restrictions in connection with his or her employment or be denied any right, privilege or benefit because of such action…. A person, who alleges a violation, may bring a civil action for appropriate injunctive relief, actual damages, and punitive damages, which shall not exceed US$10,000 or its LRD equivalent, " the Act states.
Recently, the plenary of the Liberian Senate amended Part XII of the Code of Conduct for the creation of the operational framework of the Office of the Ombudsman as established in the National Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees of the Government of Liberia.
The Code of Conduct was passed by the Legislature, approved by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but, did not provide a governing framework for the operations of the Ombudsman, including the qualification, scope of authority, and tenure of appointees to the office of the Ombudsman.
According to Section 12.3, which deals with the scope of authority of the Ombudsman, the body, in count (c), "shall make such inquires and obtain such assistance and information from any agency or person as it (Ombudsman) shall require for the discharge of its duties, and shall seek the assistance of courts for subpoenas and other legal means needed to perform its duties consistent with the laws of Liberia."
The amended Act empowers the Ombudsman to recommend appropriate sanctions and disciplinary actions to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), as provided in Part XII Section 12.2 of the Code of Conduct.
The act was prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee of the Liberia Senate on the Ombudsman under the membership of Senators Jewel Howard Taylor, Joseph N. Nagbe, Stephen H. Zargo and Morris G. Saytumah.