The Commission on Administrative Justice, more commonly known as “Office of the Ombudsman”, is a constitutional commission established under Article 59(4) of the Constitution, and the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, 2011.
The mandate of Office of the Ombudsman is two-fold, and extends to both national and county governments. Firstly, the Commission has the mandate of tackling maladministration (improper administration) in the public sector. In this regard, the Commission is empowered to, among other things, investigate complaints of delay, abuse of power, unfair treatment, manifest injustice or discourtesy. Secondly, the Commission has the mandate of overseeing and enforcing the implementation of the Access to Information Act, 2016.
The term “Ombudsman” is a gender –neutral, Swedish word that refers to an officer or office mandated to receive and redress complaints against public officers or entities. An Ombudsman is also a public officer.
In the Kenyan context, the Ombudsman handles complaints relating to maladministration and access to information.
The Commission implements its mandate in the following ways:
The role of the Commission is to oversee and enforce the right to access to information under the Access to Information Act.
The specific functions in this regard are:
Any person can lodge a complaint on their own behalf or on behalf of another person. Additionally, a complaint may be lodged by a Member of Parliament.
No. It is a criminal offence to obstruct, threaten, or victimize a complainant or an officer of the Commission. Any person so doing is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding KES 500,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
If a person is unhappy with the decision of the Ombudsman, he/she may request for review of the decision (by the Commission), or challenge the decision in the court.