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East African judicial officers discuss ways to harmonize laws in the region

4 Min Read

The East African Magistrates and Judges are meeting in Kigali to discuss the harmonization of the legal mechanisms in the region as a remedy for the promotion of regional trade among other factors.

The Conference themed, “The EAC Courts Efficiency in Adjudicating Emerging Cross Border Issues: Challenges and Strengths” is founded on the recommendation of the 16th EAMJA Conference held in 2018 which came as an enforcement of Article 126(2)(b) of the EAC Treaty that calls on all Member States to harmonize all their national laws pertaining to the Community.

During the opening ceremony, Dr Faustin Nteziryayo, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Rwanda, reminded the participants the urgent need to harmonize legal mechanisms in the region.

He points out that the harmonization of laws in the region is a key factor in the promotion and smoothening of cross border trade among the East African Member countries.

Shedding the light on the harmonization of laws, Rwanda’s Chief Justice said the three day event which kicked off today will embark on the sharing experience and knowledge on the rationale behind harmonizing judicial remedies on cross-border issues, such as commercial-related concerns and human rights issues.

“The Conference will analyze the intended actualization of fair competition and consumer protection standards and the impediments at play.”

Current issues and challenges in the harmonization of EAC tax systems, such as insolvency of multinational companies and liabilities of corporate governors, are vital topics for judicial debate,” he said.

Speaking at the opening day of the event, Nteziryayo said the event will also have ample time to assess challenges and prospects of EAC Courts in the imposition of compliance with EAC Common Market Protocol and investor protection.

“And it is an opportunity to evaluate the adjudication and alternative dispute resolution of disputes arising from cross border commercial contracts and their subsequent enforcement within the EAC Member States,” he added.

The event will also reflect on the role of judges in the eradication of modern slavery, the fulfillment of regional and internal obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers in EAC among other factors including the protection of migrants and family rights on matters pertaining to status, family reunification and the right to work.

During the event, the long-awaited gender policy that was developed and worked on by the outgoing EAMJA council members in conjunction with the ICJ-Kenya will also officially launch.

Nteziryayo called on judges to use the available opportunities to shed light on the placing issues affecting the region.

“I also know that we will seize this opportunity to interact and exchange on various reforms that are being carried out in our respective judiciaries.

Indeed, considering today’s complex and rapidly changing environment, where people expectations for quality justice are high, our respective governments have been working to transform and modernize justice systems by implementing procedural reforms, integrating technology, and realigning judicial financial models – with the ultimate goal of improving efficiency in the administration of justice,” he added.

EAMJA’s historical background dates back to March 2000 during the KMJA Annual General Meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya, when a meeting between KMJA representative and delegation from UJOA, revived an idea hatched earlier on to form a regional body.