This study focuses on those ombuds institutions that are mandated to receive complaints about the armed forces. Generally speaking, the term “armed forces” encompasses all statutory bodies with a legal capacity to use force, including the military, the police and the gendarmerie, among others. For the purpose of this study, the term “armed forces” is used in reference to all bodies that fall under the responsibility of defence ministries, including the military, namely, the army, the navy, the air force and special forces.
Throughout this study, the concept of ombuds institution for the armed forces is used to refer to the three categories or types of institutions that are analysed in this study. These are:
- General ombuds institutions, which are mandated to receive complaints about all, or nearly all, state bodies. They are referred to as “general” as their mandate relates to all public services and branches of government, including the armed forces.
- Ombuds institutions with exclusive jurisdiction, which are independent and have sole jurisdiction over the armed forces. Such ombuds institutions are civilian and independent from the military chain-of-command.
- Ombuds institutions within the armed forces, which function within the military. Such institutions are not completely independent; most often, they report to the minister of defence and receive their funding from the defence budget.