Kiai urges firms to create boards to review operations

Mr Maina Kiai. FILE PHOTO | NMG

What you need to know:

  • Maina Kiai said companies must benchmark with their peers in seeking public feedback via such boards.

Human rights crusader, Maina Kiai has urged corporate companies to create independent boards that review controversial issues eroding public loyalty to their manufactured goods and provision of services.

Speaking to Business Daily from his US office via webnair, Mr Kiai, who was recently appointed as a panelist to global IT giant Facebook’s and Instagram’s independent oversight board said companies must benchmark with their peers in seeking public feedback via such boards.

The role of such a board is to motivate the public to retain their loyalty to a product and when they feel shortchanged, one can file a complaint to be arbitrated by the review panel, free from any encumbrances that denies such a board independence when dispensing its work,” he said.

Mr Kiai said such a role will see companies adopt higher standards in their operations while earning public trust crucial in driving up profits on a sustainable platform riding on community involvement, environmental conservation and contribution to public good.

“Companies have fulltime auditors but that does not stop them from hiring external auditors to scrutinise their books. The same should apply to boards where the independent review boards receive complaints from individuals and other companies regarding the company on any matter,” he said, adding that such evolution deter self-censorship that has long-term adverse effects on a firm’s corporate image.

On his new role as one of the twenty global judges sitting on Facebook’s complaints’ panel, Mr Maina said Kenyans aggrieved on posts uploaded on Facebook can in their individual, corporate or government capacity file complaints via Facebook’s complaints portal.

“We do not receive complaints directly but Facebook will refer to us complaints that it is unable to handle that hinge on infringement of human rights,” said the career human rights lawyer who also serves as the director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships program.

The Kiai board will serve for a maximum of three 3-year terms and case panels will be confidential and assigned at random with none of the members allowed to choose on which panel to sit on. The Board will be divided into five panels that will be tasked with arbitrating all matters upholding Facebook commitment to uphold the rule of law.

In instances where Facebook removes content on its website, individuals or institutions will be at liberty to file direct appeals to the Kiai board.

Mr Kiai said some posts made were unacceptable citing photographic and video images posted on human rights abuses committed in Myammar against the Royhinga community which showed it was desirable to hurt or cause them physical harm.

Mr Kiai noted that posts from anyone or anywhere in the world that incite or fuel hatred against individuals or communities must never be peddled on social media sites since they expose harmless individuals and hardworking communities to danger of harm.

“We are not workers of Facebook but part-time professionals whose role is to advise Facebook on matters human rights. In our 15 hours of work monthly where we shall work virtually to independently arbitrate on matters referred to us.

“Some decision can hurt Facebook’s bottom-line but our main concern is to safeguard internationally accepted human rights standards. It is about fairness. All decisions will be binding and no member of the panel will be identified.

“Activities such as allowing Cambridge Analytica to influence posts in favour of a political aspirant ought not to have happened and that means our board is an experiment that could soon become the norm globally,’ he said.

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