Functions of the Office of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya is also known as the Commission on Administrative Justice in Kenya. Article 59 (4) and Chapter Fifteen of the Constitution establish this office.

The Commission on Administrative Justice Act also establishes the Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya.

The Commission on Administrative Justice in Kenya has many mandates. Among the mandates of the Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya are to:

  • investigate any conduct in state affairs or any act or omission in public administration in any sphere of Government and
  • investigate complaints of abuse of power, unfair treatment, manifest injustice or unlawful, oppressive, unfair, or unresponsive official conduct.

The Commission on Administrative Justice in Kenya replaced the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission (KNHREC) and the Public Complaints Standing Committee.

The scope of the Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya

The Commission draws its mandate from the Constitution and the Commission on Administrative Justice Act and Regulations, among others.

The scope of work extends to both the national and the county governments. The role of the Ombudsman in Kenya is as follows.

1. Maladministration

Maladministration is the primary role of the Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya. Maladministration is the actions of a government body which can be seen as causing an injustice.

Maladministration includes service failure, delay, inaction, inefficiency, ineptitude, discourtesy, and unresponsiveness.

2. Administrative Injustices

The Commission looks into allegations of administrative injustice. This includes an act or decision carried out by the Public Service or a failure to act when necessary.

The constitutional requirement of fair administrative action includes expeditious, efficient, procedurally fair action; and, entitlement to written reasons for such action.

The Commission steps in to ensure compliance by public officers.

3. Misconduct and Integrity Issues

The Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya ensures compliance with the integrity requirements in the law by public Officers. The Commission investigates improper conduct, abuse of power and misbehaviour in the public service.

4. Advisory Opinions and Recommendations

The Commission provides advisory opinions or proposals on improvement of public administration. It also makes recommendations on legal, policy, or administrative measures to address specific concerns.

The recommendations may be published or confidential. It covers offices and processes in the national and county governments.

5. Capacity Development in Government

The Commission develops the capacity of national and county government officials in Ministries, Institutions, and Departments. It trains the officials on effective methods of handling complaints in-house.

It also assists county and national governments, and independent state institutions, to set up complaints handling facilities.

6. Performance Contracting

The Commission utilizes the resolution of public complaints as an indicator of performance contracting. Public institutions submit quarterly reports detailing complaints received and action taken.

The Commission rates institutions and issues certificates on compliance. The certificate informs the overall national rating of the institution.

7. Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Commission works with different public institutions to promote alternative dispute resolution. It facilitates alternative dispute resolution on matters affecting public administration.

These alternative dispute resolution methods include negotiation, mediation and arbitration.

8. Promotion of Special Rights

The Commission on Administrative Justice in Kenya promotes compliance of the rights of the minority and marginalized groups in public administration.

This role complements the Commission’s duty to secure the protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms in public administration.

9. Promotion of Constitutionalism

The Commission serves to protect the sovereignty of the people of Kenya. This it does by ensuring all state organs observe the principles of democracy and constitutional values. It also ensures they respect the supremacy of the Constitution.

10. Access to Information (ATI)

The Access to Information Act 2016 gives effect to the right of access to information under Article 35 of the Constitution.

The Act obligates public entities and certain private bodies to facilitate access to information held by them. The Act confers oversight and enforcement functions on the Commission.

Therefore, you can make a complaint to the commission regarding denial, refusal. or delay of access to information as under Article 35 and the Act by public entities and certain private bodies.

How to Complain to the Ombudsman Kenya

Complaints can be made to the Commission on Administrative Justice through the following means:

  • Visiting any of the Commission’s offices (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Isiolo, and Eldoret) in person;
  • Calling the toll free number, 0800221349 or 020 2270000;
  • Texting short code number, 15700 (Safaricom Subscribers);
  • Writing a letter through P. O. Box 20414, 00200, Nairobi;
  • Writing an email to complain@ombudsman.go.ke;
  • Visiting any of the following Huduma Centres: Kakamega, Bungoma, Nyeri, Embu, Kajiado, Nakuru, Kisii, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi (Teleposta Towers).
  • Filling an online complaint form on their website.

All the services offered by the Ombudsman are free of charge.

Issues people complain about to the Office of the Ombudsman

Whom can you complain about to the office of the Ombudsman?

You can complain about a public office or public officer-

  • from which or whom you sought services that were not rendered or that were delayed, or
  • the officer was unprofessional, rude or disrespectful to you or other members of the public.

These issues you can complain about include the following:

  • Inaction against the police.
  • Unfair dismissal from work.
  • Delays in receiving national IDs or passports.
  • Delays in receiving pensions.
  • Abuse of office by public officers and state officers.
  • Cases of unresponsiveness and delays, e.g. against the Ministry of Lands on issuing title deeds.
  • Irregular allocation of land to private developers.
  • Illegal transfer of land ownership without the consent of the owner.

What should result from a complaint? When you complain, a wrong should be righted and administrative justice should be delivered. Complaining should ensure that service delivery in public offices is timely, efficient and effective.

For more about the office of the Ombudsman, visit their website at ombudsman.go.ke.

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George Githinji

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35 thoughts on “Functions of the Office of the Ombudsman”

  1. What evidence should someone carry as proof of unprofessional treatment, may be by the police?

    Reply
  2. Hello, I was offered a job opportunity at a company whereby I was ordered to pay KES 40,0000 which was to be refundable if not willing to carry on the business with them. After paying, I was given the terms of the business which didn’t favour my expectations, therefore I requested for a refund and from June this year up to now November, they have not refunded, what should I do?

    Reply
    • Hello. I am not the best to advise here, but you can write to the Ombudsman and see of they can help though this to me sounds like a case that could go to court.

      Reply

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