Katiba Institute regularly makes use of Article 35 on Freedom of Information (FOI) to give effect to the constitutional principles of transparency, accountability and freedom of expression. It has been shown that transparency in government activities minimizes incidences of illegalities and corruption and empowers the public to hold their government to account. However, the Kenyan government and most State agencies are very protective of the information they hold, despite the Constitutional requirement that they ought to be proactive in disclosing information that is of interest to the public.
Beyond making FOI requests on its behalf, KI also assists other civil society organizations and individuals to prepare FOI requests, especially when the information sought relates to a matter of great public interest. Moreover, KI has been working with CSO’s and Members of Parliament to develop a statutory framework to give effect to the Constitution provision on FOI.
Some Notable FOI Requests made by KI
Judicial Service Commission recruitment of Chief Justice, Deputy CJ and Judge of the Supreme Court.
KI wrote to the Judicial Service Commission on July 14 2016 seeking information on the criteria that was used to shortlist applicants who applied for the positions of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge of the Supreme Court. These positions fell vacant following the retirement of the former Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga, Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal and Justice Philip Tunoi.
OKOA Kenya Referendum
KI has made (February 2016) an FOI request to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission asking to be furnished with information on what were the issues raised in the General Suggestion by promoters of the OKOA Constitutional Amendment Initiative when it asked people to sign on in support of the popular initiative. KI is concerned that promoters of OKOA initiative may have developed a Constitutional Amendment Bill that includes proposals for constitutional amendments that go beyond what the promoters of the initiative proposed in the General Suggestion.
EACC Report on Mileage Claims by MPs
KI is working with the National Civil Society Congress to compel the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to disclose a Report which resulted from an investigation of the Mileage Claims made by Members of Parliament.
Appointment of Members of Boards of State Corporations and Agencies
KI and Article 19 have recently filed an FOI request with the Public Service Commission (PSC) asking to be provided with information whether the principles and values of Public Service under Article 232 of the Constitution which requires, among others, that public offices be filled through a competitive process was followed when the national executive, including the President, appointed persons to sit on Boards of various State Corporations and Agencies in April and October 2015.
Bomas of Kenya Development
In 2014, KI made an FOI request to the Minister of Tourism following a Request of Expression for feasibility studies to develop Hotels and a Mall at the Bomas of Kenya grounds – a critical cultural site in Nairobi. KI specifically requested from the Minister information on whether there had been public participation informing the decision to set aside the grounds for development of mall, hotels etc. Although the Ministry never formally replied to KI’s request, it hastily cancelled the ROE after receiving the KI’s FOI Request.