The Internet and The Constitution:Right of Access to Public Information


Information is the raw material for the emerging knowledge economy. Public information, in particular, is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law. It is therefore important that organisations that have the right to publish public information and the government bodies that create or control that information avail it to the public in a form that is accurate, timely and accessible.

Under the new Constitution every citizen is guaranteed the right to information held by the State or by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. The right to correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information is also assured.[1] Finally, the provision to the public of timely and accurate information is included in Article 232’s articulation of the values and principles that should guide public institutions in fulfilling their service to the public.[2] Kenyans now have free online access to the historical and current records of the debates of the Kenya National Assembly and previous parliaments or legislatures dating as far as 1960 and coming forward to 2011. This comes close on the heels of digitizing over 100 years of the Kenya Gazette

Though the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression includes the right to “receive ideas and information without interference”[3] the previous Constitution did not create any public right to information held by the state.The transparency of international, national and local administrations is a basis for their legitimacy and public trust.


[1] Section 35 (1) provides that  every citizen has the right to access-

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 publicize any important information affecting the nation.

[2] Section 232 (1) The values and principles of public service include:

(f) transparency and provision to the public of timely, accurate information.

[3] Section 79 of the now repealed Constitution of Kenya.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s