The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) also known as the Office of the Ombudsman is a Constitutional Commission established under Article 59 (4) and Chapter Fifteen of the Constitution, and the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, 2011. The Commission has a mandate, inter-alia, to investigate any conduct in state affairs or any act or omission in public administration in any sphere of Government and complaints of abuse of power, unfair treatment, manifest injustice or unlawful, oppressive, unfair or unresponsive official conduct.
The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) is a successor to the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission (KNHREC) and the Public Complaints Standing Committee.
The first commissioners to be appointed assumed office in November 2011. They are Dr. Otiende Amollo (Chairperson), Dr. Regina G. Mwatha (Vice Chairperson) and Saadia Mohamed (Commissioner). Dr Amollo served for five years but retired early on December 31, 2016.
The establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya can be traced back to 1971 when the Commission of Inquiry (Public Service Structure and Remuneration Commission), commonly known as the Ndegwa Commission, recommended that the office be established. This was primarily borne out of the need to address poor service delivery in the public sector occasioned by endemic institutional and systemic failures, and poor work ethic. In particular, service delivery in public institutions was characterized by undue delays, abuse of power, discourtesy, inefficiency, corruption, ineptitude, manifest injustice and misbehaviour among others. Although the intention was to improve service delivery by ensuring civil servants do not go against the law, the proposal was never implemented. The quality of service delivery in the public sector, therefore, continued to deteriorate thereby eroding public confidence and trust in public institutions and public servants.
Despite the foregoing, a number of national Policy Documents and Institutional Reports continued to provide for the need to establish the Office of the Ombudsman in Kenya. According to the various Annual Reports of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (now Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission), about 85 percent of the complaints received from the public were of administrative nature which could be effectively addressed by the Office of the Ombudsman. The Kenya Vision 2030 and the Economic Recovery Strategy also provided a basis for the establishment of such institution in Kenya to address poor governance in the public sector.
Consequently, the President established the Public Complaints Standing Committee (PCSC) in 2007 through Gazette Notice Number 5826 of June 2007 as a Department within the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs. PCSC was mandated to enquire into allegations of misuse of office, corruption, and unethical conduct, breach of integrity, maladministration, delay, injustice, discourtesy, inattention, incompetence, misbehaviour, and inefficiency or ineptitude. It was also mandated to receive, register, sort, classify and document all complaints against public officers in Ministries, State Corporations, Statutory Bodies and other public institutions. However, this body lacked all the characteristics of the Office of Ombudsman due to the nature of its establishment and lack independence which affected its operations.
The quest for an independent Office of the Ombudsman was given impetus by the implementation of the Agenda Four of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation through the adoption of a New Constitution in August 2010 in which administrative matters are given prominence under Chapter Four. This culminated in the establishment of the Commission on Administrative Justice in September 2011 through the enactment of the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, 2011 in the restructuring of the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission under Article 59(4) of the Constitution.
To be an effective overseer of responsiveness and servant-hood in public offices at national and county levels.
To enforce administrative justice and promote constitutional values by addressing maladministration through effective complaints handling and dispute resolution.