The Commission on Administration of Justice (CAJ) popularly known as Office of the Ombudsman nominated Commissioner Saadia Mohamed to serve as the Access to Information Commissioner.
In a notice, the commission said, “in order to effectively exercise its oversight and enforcement mandate provided for in the Access to Information Act, the Commission designated Commissioner Saadia Mohamed as the Access to Information Commissioner effective December 16, 2016, in line with the Act.”
The law which came into operation on September 21, 2016, provides the necessary framework and mechanisms for operationalisation of Article 35 of the Constitution which guarantees every citizen the right of access to information.
The commission has various roles to play in enhancing access to information in Kenya.
For instance, when an information access officer has made a decision as to whether to provide access to information, he or she has declined, they send a statement about how the requester may appeal to the Commission.
In addition, where a decision is taken to provide the information applied for, an information access officer sends to the applicant a written response within fifteen working days of receipt of the application, advising that an appeal may be made to the Commission in respect of the amount of fees required or the form of access proposed to be provided.
An applicant seeking information from a public entity or private body, may apply in writing to the Commission requesting a review of decisions made. This could be;
- a decision refusing to grant access to the information applied for
- a decision granting access to information in edited form
- a decision purporting to grant access, but not actually granting the access in accordance with an application
- a decision to defer providing the access to information
- a decision relating to imposition of a fee or the amount of the fee
- a decision relating to the remission of a prescribed application fee
- a decision to grant access to information only to a specified person
- a decision refusing to correct, update or annotate a record of personal information
In reviewing a decision, the Commission may, where necessary, give notice to any third party to whom the information relates unless the necessary steps to locate the third party have been unsuccessful.
Furthermore, Part five of the Act reads, “the Commission shall designate one of the Commissioners as “Access to Information Commissioner” with specific responsibility of performing the functions assigned to the Commission under this Act.”
Among others, the functions of the Commission include
- investigate, on its initiative or upon complaint made by any person or group of persons, violation of the provisions of the Act
- request for and receive reports from public entities with respect to the implementation of this Act and of the Act relating to data protection and to assess and act on those reports with a view to assessing and evaluating the use and disclosure of information and the protection of personal data
- develop and facilitate public education awareness and develop programmes on right to access to information and right to protection of personal data
- work with public entities to promote the right to access to information and work with other regulatory bodies on promotion and compliance with data protection measures in terms of legislation
- monitor state compliance with international treaty obligations relating to freedom of and right of access to information and protection of personal data
- hear and determine complaints and review decisions arising from violations of the right to access to information
- promote protection of data as provided for under this Act or the Constitution
- perform such other functions as the Commission may consider necessary for the promotion of access to information and promotion of data protection