What is the institution of Síndica de Greuges de Barcelona?
The Barcelona Ombudsman’s Office is a single-person entity that complements the Municipal Administration. Its function is to defend the fundamental rights and public freedoms of Barcelona’s residents and of those staying in the city, even if they are not residents. With this purpose in mind, it supervises the conduct of the Municipal Administration and of its dependent public services, especially in terms of the rights and freedoms established in the European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City.
The legal basis of the institution can be found in the Law on the Municipal and Local System of Catalonia of 2003, the year in which Barcelona City Council and its regulations were established. The Ombudsman’s Office Regulations establish that the rights of both the city’s residents and of anyone in the city at any given time must be defended.
The European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City, written up in Barcelona and approved in Saint-Denis, was the driving force behind legislative change in Catalonia to give each town and city a local ombudsman as an independent, impartial institution. For this reason, the Regulations take the rights to be defended from this European Charter.
The Full Municipal Council of Barcelona City Council approved the Ombudsman’s Office Regulations on 21 March 2003, before regulating additional aspects of the organisation and its operation on 19 January 2005.
The first ombudsman for Barcelona was Pilar Malla i Escofet. Malla was unanimously appointed by all political groups on 24 November 2005.
The current ombudsman for Barcelona, Maria Assumpció Vilà i Planas, was unanimously elected and appointed on 30 April 2010 by the Full Municipal Council, having been put forward by the mayor. Vilà took office on 13 May 2010 to begin her term supervising the Municipal Administration independently and objectively for a period of five years.
The Ombudsman’s Office was included in the Municipal Charter of Barcelona on 23 December 2014. With its incorporation into the Municipal Charter, the Ombudsman’s Office became recognised by law. The regulation of this figure, beyond its organic Regulations, guarantees the recognition of the right of Barcelona’s citizens to have their cause reviewed by an independent, local, objective institution, which will pass judgement on their complaint in view of the law and equity considerations.
On 1 July 2016, Vilà was re-elected by the Municipal Council plenary session for a second term of five years. During the plenary session, Vilà received support from all municipal groups (Barcelona en Comú, CiU, Ciutadans, ERC, PSC and PP), except the CUP, which abstained.
Vilà took office again on 5 September 2016 in an event in the Saló de Cròniques in City Hall, presided over by the mayor, Ada Colau.