New Kenyan Constitution Guarantees Access Right

16 September 2010

The new Kenyan Constitution guarantees the right of access to information, but the question is now turning to implementation.

After winning 67 percent approval in a referendum, the Constitution went into effect Aug. 28, 2010.

The relevant section of the new Kenyan Constitution states:

Access to information

35. (1) Every citizen has the right of access to —

(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.

Henry O. Maina, the regional director for Article 19, told Freedominfo.org, he has already begun to use the new right but that an implementation law will be needed. He wrote: 

It is my considered opinion that the law is needed to enhance the full realisation of Article 35 and other provisions on access to information like Art. 46 (1) (b). However, the law is not necessary to make it operational. It begins to apply and we need to test it further. 

I have put in a few information requests in the last 7 days and awaiting the responses or reaction.

News reports from Kenya suggest that the implementation process is already complicated.  The Cabinet is working on bills to send to Parliament once it resumes later this month. The Constitution calls for the creation on an Implementation Commission, which has not yet been formed. 

Pro-FOI activists believe it may be many months or even years before FOI legislation becomes a priority.

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