George Kaminis, former ombudsman, now Athens mayor
If you have a bad experience or complaint about public services in Greece, it is important to know that you have an ombudsman to help.
An ombudsman is an independent government official appointed to:
– Receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials;
– Report findings;
– Help achieve equitable settlements through a non-judicial process.
More than 10,000 complaints are filed per year in this country, with that number set to rise in direct proportion to public awareness. Polls show that less than half of Greeks know about him, most of them university graduates living in Athens, and less than 50 percent of those who know say they trust him.
Statistics show that 2 in 5 cases are solved in favor of the complainant, only 5 percent are rejected outright and the remainder are forwarded to the relevant government body for further review. If you have ever been through the justice system of Greece, where cases require money and several years to be heard, the ombudsman is an attractive and free-of-charge alternative.
Who can file a complaint?
– Greek citizens
– EU citizens residing in Greece
– Non-EU citizens residing in Greece
– Political refugees
* Tourists should contact the Tourist Police 24 hours a day by dialing ’171.’ They speak English, French, German and, of course, Greek; Mr. Aris was particularly helpful when I first arrived.
What kind of complaints does the Ombudsman address?
– Inefficiency, dishonesty and maladministration regarding bureaucracy in municipalities, social insurance and pension fund offices;
– Discrimination where benefits, jobs, rentals, grants/aid are denied on the basis of citizenship or ethnic origin (i.e., “only Greek citizens, no foreigners”);
– Suspected human rights violations against non-EU citizens;
– Maltreatment at state hospitals;
– Questionable practices by the urban planning board;
– Unreasonable delays by translators at the Foreign Ministry;
– Delays by the eforia (tax office) that then incur penalties (i.e., sending an audit letter after the deadline and assessing a penalty);
– Discrimination according to gender or age;
– Abuses by police (i.e., refusing to take a police report, physical harm);
– Nearly anything having to do with a public office or official; and
– *New* Monitoring, promotion and implementation of equal treatment between men and women regarding goods and services, according to law 3769/2009.
How long do I have to file a complaint?
Six (6) months from the date in which the event occurred.
Where do I go?
5 Hatziyianni-Mexis Street
(near the Hilton Hotel)
Tel: (210) 728-9600 or 801 112 5000
Website: www.synigoros.gr (English/Greek)*
* A booklet is also offered in Albanian, Bulgarian, French, Romanian, Russian and Turkish
In the news
“Ombudsman finds gender discrimination in Greek military” – Eleftherotypia
“Greek ombudsman assesses €5,000 fine on firm that fired pregnant woman” — Kathimerini
“Ombudsman rules that children can be excused from religious lessons with parental permission” — Kathimerini
“Ombudsman condemns asylum application process” — Kathimerini
“Complaints about noise rarely addressed” — Kathimerini
“Good behavior guide for public sector drafted by ombudsman” — Kathimerini
“Municipalities at top of gripe list” — Kathimerini
“Imprudence is rewarded not punished” — Kathimerini
“Ombudsman reports more malaise” (link broken) — Athens News
* Article last updated January 2, 2013