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Katiba Institute trains Community Based Organizations on Access to Information

Katiba Institute trains Community Based Organizations on Access to Information

Katiba Institute trained representatives from Community Based Organizations drawn from Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi and West Pokot counties on Access to Information from 22 June 2021 to 25 June 2021 in Eldoret.

The training aimed to help participants understand the Kenyan access to information law (ATI) as a tool for ensuring transparency and accountability; understand the procedures for seeking information under the ATI Act and to have a practical experience of using Access to Information for evidence building to ensure transparency and accountability of public entities.

During the engagement, participants got an opportunity to share their experiences in using the Access to Information law. Some of those who had tried to access information cited frustrations in getting information from public entities as per the Access to Information Act, 2016. They noted that some entities could not simply provide information while others refuse to officially acknowledge receipt of the requests.

“I once requested for information from a public entity, but the process has turned out to be frustrating since they refused to stamp on my copy of the letter to acknowledge receipt and I haven’t heard from them regarding my request.” cited one of the participants.

There were cases however where the public entities have been responsive in providing information.

Every Kenyan citizen has the right to access information in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution and the Access to Information Act. Governments derive their power from the people and therefore public bodies hold information not for themselves but as custodians of the public good.

Freedom of information is an essential part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as recognized by resolution 59 of the UN General Assembly, as well as by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which states that the fundamental right of freedom of expression includes the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

The declaration of principles on freedom of expression in Africa affirms the principles for anchoring the rights to freedom of expression and access to information in conformance with Article 9 of the African Charter which guarantees individuals the right to receive information as well as the right to express and disseminate information.

Participants were taken through Legal framework of the access to information in Kenya and the procedure of making Access to Information requests in Kenya.

In groups, participants identified issues that required Access to Information requests and made presentations to the whole group. Some of the issues identified and discussed include state of roads, allocation of funds at county level and whether public participation processes were followed to make certain decisions.

“This training was an eye-opener and quite informative on Access to Information, it was also very practical.” a participant noted while thanking Katiba Institute for organizing the training.

The counties were placed in two groups where representatives from Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and West Pokot were trained on 22nd and 23rd while the second group targeting Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet took place on 24 and 25 June 2021. The second training saw KI partner with Rest Hub.

Katiba Institute in partnership with Haki Yetu Organization held a similar training in Mombasa targeting participants from Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties on 10th and 11th June 2021.