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Gov’t agencies urged to provide information to citizens

The Commission of Administrative Justice (CAJ) Chairperson Florence Kajuju has called on government agencies to adequately provide information of public interests to Kenyans.

Speaking in Garissa during the commemoration of the International day for Universal access to information, Kajuju said that articles 47 and 35 of the Constitution, and the Access to information Act, 2016 provides for fair administrative justice and access to information for all Kenyans.

“We are asking the public bodies, the National and County governments to freely give information to Kenyans. Kenyans have a right to access information. Let the county governments give Kenyans information on procurement, on the utilization of Covid-19 funds or how they use the money disbursed to them by the National Treasury. When there is proper information to the public, citizens will have no reason to accuse the leaders of embezzlement on social media,” she added.

Stakeholders drawn from the County and the national governments, the media, Human rights and civil society groups during commemoration of the International day for Universal access to information in Garissa. Photo by Erick Kyalo

The CAJ chair urged the county governments to draft the County government access to information act’ and create a legal framework where citizens may be able to easily access information they need.

She complained that some organizations delay or never give responses to Kenyans asking for information of their interests.

However, Kajuju noted that during the electioneering period the commission will expect all public bodies and private bodies that fall within the ambit of the Access to Information Act and Regulations to fully adhere to their obligations.

“Recent experiences across the continent illustrate the dangers that the lack of information during electoral process poses to peace, security and stability. The failure by stakeholders in the electoral process to proactively provide information breeds distrust and lack of confidence,” she said.

For instance she called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to inform the public on how they intend to use the Sh 40.9 billion they are requesting to prepare for the 2022 general elections.

Media Council of Kenya (MCK) senior officer for accreditation and compliance Jamila Yesho urged the press to commit to report verifiable stories that were accurate and objective.

Yesho said that the media was an important partner in the dissemination of information and promotion of good governance. “The media provides news and information on national programs and events, creates platforms for national dialogue and contributes to setting the national agenda,” Yesho said.

“The media has also been at the forefront of democratization, advocating for human rights and freedoms and act as the public watchdog by investigating and exposing corruption and other illegal conducts involving public institutions and officers,” she added.

Northeastern Regional Commissioner Nicodemus Ndalana who attended the function said that proper flow of information between the government and residents has led to peace and stability in the region.

Ndalana emphasized on the importance of informing the public saying that lack of information leads to speculations and propaganda. “We have been able to gain the trust of our people and we act on information they relay to us especially on matters of insecurity,” Ndalana said.

By Erick Kyalo

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