Global Freedom of Expression

Kariuki v. Attorney General

Closed Expands Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Public Documents
  • Date of Decision
    July 8, 2011
  • Outcome
    Decision Outcome (Disposition/Ruling), Access to Information Granted
  • Case Number
    Petition no. 403 of 2006
  • Region & Country
    Kenya, Africa
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Constitutional Law
  • Themes
    Access to Public Information, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention

Content Attribution Policy

Global Freedom of Expression is an academic initiative and therefore, we encourage you to share and republish excerpts of our content so long as they are not used for commercial purposes and you respect the following policy:

  • Attribute Columbia Global Freedom of Expression as the source.
  • Link to the original URL of the specific case analysis, publication, update, blog or landing page of the down loadable content you are referencing.

Attribution, copyright, and license information for media used by Global Freedom of Expression is available on our Credits page.

Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

The High Court of Kenya held that the salaries and allowances of Armed Forces personnel are not private or confidential and must be disclosed to the requester and the Court.

The petitioner, a former Commander of the Kenya Air Force, alleged that he had suffered inhumane treatment amounting to torture and breach of his fundamental rights following his arrest, imprisonment and conviction after an attempted coup in 1982. Following his release, the petitioner instituted proceedings for declarations and reliefs for the purpose of which he applied for employment records and salary details including those of comparable officers.

Court reasoned that the petitioner had a constitutional right to the information requested under section 35 of the Constitution and that it was “completely unacceptable for the Attorney-General” to insinuate that the records requested could not be disclosed.

This case analysis was contributed by


Peter Kariuki, a former Commander of the Kenyan Air Force, was relieved of his duties, arrested, detained, and eventually tried and convicted after a 1982 attempted coup.

He brought a suit to challenge the conditions of his detention as violating his fundamental rights. In connection with this legal challenge, Mr. Kariuki sought from the Department of Defense employment records, payment vouchers, and current salary records for officers of similar rank.

The Court ordered the Department of Defense to produce the information, but the Department of Defense refused, asserting that salaries and allowances of Armed Forces personnel are confidential and personal.

Decision Overview

The Court ruled that the Defense Forces are subject to the Constitution, pursuant to Articles 3 and 10. Article 10 stipulates transparency and accountability as among the national values binding all state organs. The Court further ruled that Article 35, on the right to information, grants Mr. Kariuki the right of access to the information requested from the Department of Defense.

The Court therefore rejected the Attorney-General’s assertion that defense salary and allowance information is confidential, and compelled the Department of Defense to provide this information to the Commander and to the Court. The Court stated that “records regarding salaries and benefits payable to public officers cannot be classified as private or confidential.” The Court noted as relevant that the underlying case related to serious alleged violations of constitutional rights .

Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Expands Expression

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

Official Case Documents

Have comments?

Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.

Send Feedback