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.
The Defensor del Pueblo is assisted by two deputies, to whom he or she may delegate his or her functions.