The Defensor del Pueblo is the High Commissioner of the Parliament responsible for defending the fundamental rights and civil liberties of citizens 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 his or her functions independently and impartially, autonomously and in his or her own good judgment and enjoys inviolability and immunity in the exercise of his or her 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 the 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 his or her capacity as the NPM, performs preventive visits to all detention centers to detect problems that might favor the impunity of torture or ill-treatment. The conclusions of these visits are reflected in an annual report presented to the Spanish Parliament and the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture in Geneva.

Regulations

An organic act shall regulate the institution of the Defensor del Pueblo as the high commissioner of the Cortes Generales, appointed by them to defend the rights contained in this Part; for this purpose he or she may supervise the activity of the Administration and report thereon to the Cortes Generales. (Senate Standing Orders, Article 183).
Of 6 April regarding the Defensor del Pueblo, as amended by Organic Act 2/1992, of 5 March (Offcial State Gazette 109, of 7 May 1981 and 57, of 6 Match 1992); and Organic Act 1/2009, of 3 November (Official State Gazette 266, of 4 November 2009).
Approved by the Committees of Congress and the Senate, upon proposal of the Defensor del Pueblo, at their joint meeting of 6 April 1983. Amended by the Resolutions of the Committees of Congress and the Senate on 21 April 1992, 26 September 2000 and 25 January 2012 (Official State Gazette 99 of 24 April 1992, 261 of 31 October 2000, and number 52 of 1 March 2012).
Governing the relations between the State institution of the Defensor del Pueblo and similar figures in the different Autonomous Communities (Official State Gazette, 271 of 12 November 1985).
Of the Defensor del Pueblo regulating the personal data files of the office of the Defensor del Pueblo. (Official State Gazette 295 of 8 December 2008).