Kenya Ombudsman makes its own complaints

May 18, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – The Public Complaints Standing Committee has called on public institutions to always respond expeditiously when they receive inquiries about complaints.

Chairman James Simani said on Monday that lack of response to its inquiries about complaints has greatly hindered the work of the Ombudsman.

He explained that the Police force tops the list of non-responsive public institutions, followed by the Ministry of Local Government and the Provincial Administration.

“The Public Complaints Standing Committee’s efficiency in resolving complaints is determined by the timeliness of response to its inquiries by concerned public institutions,” he said.

“It is therefore imperative that public institutions respond to our inquiries within the shortest possible time,” he added.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo said that speedy response to inquiries would enable the committee to perform its duties effectively.

“Ombudsman is nothing new. It goes back nearly forty years now. Their effectiveness is only governed by the respect which public institutions show to it,” the Justice Minister stated.

“If the public institutions are not reacting to them, the oversight of the Ombudsman is a waste of resources.”

The committee was mandated with redressing complaints raised by Kenyans against government officials and institutions, and to provide quarterly reports to the President, to whom it is answerable.

One of its jobs is to promote alternative dispute resolution through mediation. The establishment of the committee was meant to enhance good governance and improve management in public institutions.

Its functions include receiving, registering, classifying and documenting all complaints against public officials, including those who work in ministries, parastatals, statutory bodies and other public institutions. An ombudsman can investigate the Government at any level, any person performing a public function and corporations or companies where the State is involved.

The office can investigate improper prejudice suffered by the complainant or another person as a result of abuse of power, unfair, capricious, and discourteous or other improper conduct, including undue delays in getting public services, violation of human rights. It is also mandated with investigating maladministration, dishonesty or corruption.

The office can however not investigate court judgments or crimes by individuals, private companies and doctors or lawyers who are not working for the State.

It is in line with the Government’s reform agenda which was aimed at improving service delivery to Kenyans.

Meanwhile, Mr Kilonzo stressed the need for institutional reforms before the next general elections.

He said that this would ensure the poll violence experienced in 2007 does not recur again. He stressed the need for Kenyans to be involved in key institutional reforms.

“The 2012 general elections will require a judiciary that enjoys the confidence of the Kenyan people,” he pointed out adding that each person should play an individual role in ensuring that necessary reforms take place.

“Accordingly, it is the responsibility of every Kenyan to tell us what we can do to win back that confidence.”


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