The East African Legislative Assembly has proposed enactment of an omnibus law to harmonize national laws appertaining to the Community and to institute an administration law for the Common Market Protocol.
The Assembly is of the view such a move shall cure, existing challenges of harmonisation of Partner State laws appertaining to the Community. At the same time, the Assembly wants the Council of Ministers to direct the Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs to hold regular meetings and to prioritize harmonization of laws for EAC in order facilitate integration within the set time frames.
In order to meaningfully facilitate co-operation in legal and judicial affairs as provided for under Article 126 of the Treaty, EALA urges EAC Council of Ministers to expedite implementation of the entire Article which obliges Partner States to harmonize legal training and certification; encourage standardization of judgments of courts within the Community as well as in establishing common syllabus for the training of lawyers.
Hon Dora Byamukama refers to the EAC Treaty. The legislator presented the report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges on the oversight activity on the harmonisation of national laws in the EAC context.
Late yesterday, EALA approved the Report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges on the oversight activity on the harmonisation of national laws in the EAC context. The Report presented to the House by Hon Dora Byamukama on behalf of the Chair of the Committee, Hon Peter Mathuki, follows an oversight activity carried out by the Committee in February 22- 26, 2016.
Chapter 24 of the Treaty provides for co-operation in Legal and Judicial Affairs. Specifically, Article 126 (2) (b) of the Treaty provides that “Partner States shall through their appropriate national institutions take all necessary steps to harmonize all their national laws appertaining to the Community”.
Hon Martin Ngoga gestures as he makes a point during the debate earlier today.
In line with that Treaty provision, EAC Partner States established a sub-committee on the approximation of national laws in the EAC context.
During the oversight activity, the Committee was informed that Partner States are at different stages of implementation of the directives of the Council of Ministers on harmonization on national laws. It further observed that Partner States were slow when it comes to amending laws to comply with the directive of the Council of Ministers pertaining to harmonization of national laws. Further on, the criteria used and timelines for harmonization of laws is also unclear.
The Committee cites a number of challenges including frequent changes in the membership of the Task Force, conflicting commitments of members of the Task Force as well as different legal systems. In addition, the slow pace in the implementation of the harmonisation agenda at national level and the lack of monitoring mechanisms to ensure Partner States comply with the adopted approximation proposals are also cited.
A section of the Members pay attention to the proceedings in the House
During debate time, Hon Judith Pareno said the activity of harmonising and approximating laws was a Treaty matter and said it was important for the Community to have a system of the laws to harmonise. Hon Shyrose Bhanji remarked that slow implementation of harmonising laws was retrogressive for integration. She asked the House to request the Council of Ministers to share with the Assembly a matrix showing progress of implementation.
“We also need a special strategy to popularise the laws passed by the Assembly to the citizens”, Hon Bhanji said. Hon Martin Ngoga called for a rethink of strategy in the way the Community undertakes its mandate as it advances the objectives of integration. Harmonisation of laws is just one of the ways but there are a number of things we need to do with reference to Article 126.
“Why are we not publishing East Africa Law Journals? There are over 600 laws that we need to harmonise to make EAC realise the Common Market and we must move faster,” he said. The legislator said EALA must take the lead.
“It is the Assembly’s role to make laws and we should not take back the matter to Partner States” he said. “We must reassess our mode of work”, he added.
Hon Susan Nakawuki remarked that it was key for the harmonisation of immigration laws to be speedily undertaken. “One of the key issues we need to address is that of the yellow fever certificates and I request the Council of Ministers to inform us of the position of the Community on the matter”, Hon Nakawuki said.
Chairperson of the Legal Rules and Privileges Committee, Hon Peter Mathuki urged the Ministers of EAC to be in attendance during the Plenary Sitting. “The continuous absence of EAC Ministers may be another reason for the slow implementation of activities of integration”, Hon Mathuki said. The legislator also said bureaucracies needed to be reduced.
The 3rd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC in the Republic of Uganda, Rt Hon Kirunda Kivejinja remarked that progress on the pillars of integration were notable while, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and International Co-operation, Hon Dr Susan Kolimba remarked that the Council of Ministers was committed to ensuring issues brought to fore by Members are adequately addressed.
Also rising up to support the report was Hon Joseph Kiangoi, Hon Abdullah Mwinyi and Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza.