The Freedom of information Network
The Kenyan Constitution is one of the few constitutions in the world (besides those of South Africa and Uganda) that provides for the right of access to information. Article 35 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, provides as follows:-
35 (1) Every citizen has the right to access:
(a) information held by the State; and
(b) information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.
(2) Every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person.
(3) The State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.
Article 35 on access to information is anchored by Article 10, on national values and principles of governance that include democracy and participation of the people, good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability.
Two years after the promulgation of the new Constitution, and notwithstanding the importance of the legislation, the State is yet to enact legislation to guide holistic implementation of the right to access information. Therefore, the State continues to withhold vital information that compromises the very principles and values of governance espoused by the Constitution. Presently, the framework governing the collection, storage and disclosure of public information is guided by a number of statutes including the Disposal of Records Act of 1962, the Public Archives and Documentation Service Act of 1966 and the Statistics Act of 2006. Other statutes include the Official Secrets Act of 1968 (which makes it an offence to disclose certain kinds of information).
Parliament is yet to enact the statutory framework needed to elaborate and implement the right to information, although a draft Freedom of Information Bill has been developed, and according to the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), is currently undergoing stakeholder review, alongside the Data Management and Protection Bill. Recently, the Attorney General , while addressing the status of some media draft laws, signaled that the FOI and Data Protection bills will be tabled in Parliament soon. The right to information is central in the implementation of crucial laws such as those that touch on vetting of public officials and access to relevant information on individual’s suitability to undertake certain roles; and the devolution laws with regard to sharing public information for purposes of civic participation in county governments. It is hoped that the AG’s recent promise to table the FOI Bill ‘soon’ is a solid commitment, and that the Bills will be debated in parliament without undue delay.
The Freedom of Information Network is a network of civil society organizations that advocate for issues around freedom of information.The network currently consists of the following organisations:
Transparency International Kenya has also initiated an online petition for Freedom of Information in Kenya that is open to all Kenyans to sign