The Defensor del Pueblo is the High Commissioner of Parliament responsible for defending citizens’ fundamental rights and civil liberties by monitoring the activity of the Administration and public authorities.
The Defensor del Pueblo is elected by Congress and the Senate by a three-fifths majority. The term of office is five years and the Defensor del Pueblo does not take orders or receive instructions from any authority. The Defensor del Pueblo must perform their functions independently and impartially, autonomously and in their own good judgment and they enjoy inviolability and immunity in the exercise of their office.
Any citizen may request the intervention of the Defensor del Pueblo, which is free of charge, to investigate any alleged misconduct by public authorities and/or the agents thereof. The office of the Defensor del Pueblo can also intervene ex officio in cases that come to their attention without any complaint having been filed.
The Defensor del Pueblo prepares an annual report for Parliament and may submit case reports on matters which are considered particularly serious or urgent or requiring special attention.
Following ratification by the Spanish State of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 18 December 2002, the Spanish Parliament attributed the functions of the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (NPM) in Spain to the Defensor del Pueblo in November 2009.
The Defensor del Pueblo, in their capacity as the NPM, makes preventive visits to all detention centres to detect problems that might favour the impunity of torture or ill-treatment. The conclusions of these visits are detailed in an annual report presented to the Spanish Parliament and the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture in Geneva.