Since 19 March 2011 the Chancellor of Justice performs the functions of the ombudsman for children in Estonia. The word ombudsman comes from Scandinavia. Ombuds means protector of rights and man is a person whose rights are protected. Ombudsman is an independent official who protects the rights of individuals or groups of people when they interact with state institutions, local government institutions and other executors of state power. The Ombudsman for Children protects the rights of children and youngsters when they interact with executors of state power.
According to the Chancellor of Justice Act and the Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 4, the Chancellor of Justice is responsible for protection and promotion of children's rights. To fulfil the tasks of the Ombudsman for Children, there is the Children’s and Youths' Rights Department in the Office of the Chancellor of Justice which employs 5 persons.
The main tasks of the Ombudsman for Children are:
- to ensure that all state institutions and all other institutions and people who make decisions having an impact on children and youngsters, would respect children's rights and would have only the best interests of children and youngsters in mind when making these decisions;
- to resolve complaints related to children’s rights in their relations with the individuals and authorities that perform public functions;
- to verify whether the legal acts related to children’s rights are in the conformity with the constitution and laws;
- to familiarise the society with children's rights;
- to impartially point out any existing child protection problems in the society;
- to organise studies related to children’s rights;
- to help start discussions on the topics important for Estonian children and youngsters in the society.