CAJ – Commission on Administrative Justice / Ombudsman

CAJ - Commission on Administrative Justice / Ombudsman

The CAJ deals with maladministration in the public sector, “such as unreasonable delay, administrative injustice, discourtesy or misconduct, incompetence or ineptitude, misbehavior in public administration, improper or prejudicial conduct, manifest injustice, abuse of power, unlawful, oppressive, unfair treatment or unresponsive official conduct and failure to adhere to the constitutional principles that all sovereign authority of the state is drawn from the people. In performing this function, the Commission provides oversight across the entire public sector, acting as a check on processes, systems and procedures.” (source: 2014 annual report – legal sources see below)

The CAJ handles complaints by any citizen and institution.

In 2014, according to the annual report, the Commission handled a total of 86,905 complaints with 79,693 new cases, which was four times as much as the year before. The Commission attributed this to increased awareness of the Commission’s existence and a growing appreciation. The annual reports cites in anecdotal reference a number of specific cases which were solved to the satisfaction of the complainants. But it is unclear as to which percentage of the total the cases could be satisfactorily solved.

The prominent service issues in 2014 were

  1. unresponsive official conduct (19.91%),
  2. delay (19.08%),
  3. unfair treatment (13.58%),
  4. abuse of power (11.54%),
  5. maladministration (10.81)
  6. administrative injustice (7.21).

With respect to institutions, most of the complaints were directed against the

  1. National Police Service (12.94%),
  2. Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government (9.28%),
  3. the Judiciary (8.04%), and
  4. Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (7.63%).”

The CAJ may investigate on its own initiative cases of abuse of power, unfair treatment, manifest injustice or unlawful, oppressive, unfair or unresponsive official conduct. The 2014 annual report mentions seven comprehensive investigations of this kind along with recommendations the CAJ gave.

In 2014, the Commission cited 31 public officers and one institution for unresponsiveness to complaints. It trained officials and journalists and visited eight counties. It is decentralizing its services by opening branches in diverse cities of Kenya.

The next annual report for 2015 may be expected by the end of 2016 – if it takes as long as the last one to be completed, published and publicised.

Legal foundation

By Act of Parliament according to the Constitution Article 59 (4). The CAJ takes part of the responsibilities of the former KENYA NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUALITY COMMISSION.
Detailed functions of the commission are to be found in Section 8 of the Commission on Administrative Justice Act and the other Sections of the same act.

The commission has substantive investigative powers which are detailed in Sections 26 to 28 of the CAJ Act. But it may only try to resolve cases by conciliation, mediation, negotiation and recommendation Sec. 29 CAJ Act. You may say that its power ends where the powers of police, judiciary, ODPP or IECC begin. Section 30 (b) of the CAJ Act prohibits the CAJ from investigating, among others, criminal offences… and many matters of “manifest injustice or unlawful, oppressive, unfair or unresponsive official conduct” which the Kenyan mwananchi has complained about to the ombudsman in fact ARE considered to be criminal offences by law.

Links:

Website (ext. link)

Twitter: @Kenyasombudsman

facebook: Ombudsman Kenya

Complaint form (ext.)

Annual report 2014 (pdf, ext. link)