Public Forum on newly enacted Freedom of Information Act (2016)

As part of the world Freedom of Information Day 2016 celebrations, The Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Freedom of Information Network, held a public discussion on the newly enacted Freedom of Information Act 2016 at the 680 hotel on 28th September 2016.

The main objective of the forumwas to discuss the newly adopted Freedom of Information Act and raise awareness on the use and implementation of the Act.

At the meeting, Member of Nyeri County Women Representative Hon. Priscilla Nyokabi, who has been at the forefront in promoting and is the sponsor ofthis law in Parliament reiterated that the right to information underpins and is the cornerstone of all other human rights. She said that access to information law is a 'sunshine' law; a key tool in accessing information on past corruption scandals.

The Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and theThe freedom of Information Network celebrated the dawn of an era in Kenya marked by passing of the Bill and later accent into Law by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The painstaking efforts of the Freedom of Information Network of drafting and publicizing the Freedom of Information Bill have finally come to fruition through the enactment of the FOI Act of 2016. This has been an ongoing campaign since the year 2000 spearheaded by ICJ-Kenya in consultation with various stakeholders, members of the Freedom of Information Network, and supported by many Kenyans countrywide.

The FOI Act has very progressive provisions. It promises to usher in an era of openness, transparency and accountability in Kenya. Enactment of the FOI Act confirms Kenya as a leading democracy in Africa, and one of the few countries to have an FOI Law.

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.

This new law empowers the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) also known as Ombudsman to investigate and inspect public data protection, and relevant private bodies, information and education of the public, hearing and determining complaints, monitor state compliance with international treaty obligations.