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East-Africa

EAC A Pillar Of Cross-border Codes of Justice

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Lady Justice Martha Koome, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya has stated that the chords of the East African Union have indeed led to the formation of enduring and instrumental institutions of justice and Governance.

“The East Africa Court of Justice is a pivotal institutional pillar of this collaboration and a carrier of our cross-border codes of justice,” she said.

Her Ladyship asserted that “As a Court, you take the regional lead as a vehicle for realising good governance and the rule of law in the EAC region. The jurisprudence you have built over the years on adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice cannot go unnoticed,” said Lady Justice Koome.

Making her closing remarks during the EACJ meeting on validation of Strategic Plan, she noted that the cooperation between Kenya national Judiciaries must be up-scaled and not limited to hosting of the sub registry at the Milimani commercial courts.

“I wish to see more tangible cooperation in judicial matters like joint trainings and colloquia. The principles of rule of law and good governance are very important to consumers of our services and the full achievement of economic integration in our region.” said the Chief Justice.

Lady Justice Koome further added, “I have noted that the Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community (EAC) makes provision for cooperation with national judiciaries under Article 33 and 34.

Article 33 provides “Except where jurisdiction is conferred on the Court by this Treaty, disputes to which the Community is a party shall not on that ground alone, be excluded from the jurisdiction of the national courts of the Partner States”.

Since national courts can also determine cases touching on the Treaty, that calls for training of national Judges on matters of the Treaty.

“As the Kenyan judiciary engages in the quest to develop the social justice jurisprudence decreed by our transformative Constitution, we can gain illuminating insights from the progressive jurisprudence developed by the EACJ and the cross-fertilized jurisprudence that we develop can also enrich the EACJ’s jurisprudence and the decisions by our sister courts in other Partner States.

On his part the Judge President East African Court of Justice Hon Justice Nestor Kayobera noted that during the Training of Judges on Good governance and Rule of Law in East African Community, a number of issues were identified and these include; the two (2) moths time limitation requirement to file a case before the EACJ.

“It has been realized that a number of reasonable cases have been dismissed on grounds of time barred and this requires amendment of the Treaty of EAC to extend time to give litigants enough time to lodge their cases appropriately,” stated His Lordship.

He also pointed out the emerging concerns on Article 30 of the Treaty which allows a Legal or natural person to litigate before EACJ, which provides that “…..any person who is a resident in a Partner State may refer a matter for determination by the Court on the legality of any act, regulation, directive, decision by a Partner State or an Institution of the Community on ground that such act, regulation, directive, decision is an unlawful or an infringement of the Treaty”.

The Court has noted that this article limits East Africans who are citizens but residing outside East Africa and therefore there is need to amend the Treaty to accommodate all citizens of East Africa regardless of their residence, since a number of litigants filing cases in EACJ are legal and natural persons.

Justice Kayobera urged the national Courts as part of the enforcement actors on the good governance and rule of law in the Partner States to continue supporting the EAC Integration process by exercising the jurisdiction of the national courts under Article 33 of the Treaty as well as referring matters on interpretation and application of the Treaty to EACJ for preliminary rulings under Article 34 of the EAC Treaty.

“Everyone is entitled to justice and therefore it’s our duty to protect the rights of the people of East Africa and access to the Court is fundamental.” Said Judge President.

He called upon the Government of Kenya for support in continuing raising the jurisprudence of the Court in the region, protecting its independence and resolving several challenges that affect its operations including the ad-hoc nature of the services of the Judges, financial constraints among others, all that hinder timely justice delivery.

His Lordship Justice Kayobera, commended the recent request received by the Court from the Government of South Sudan to settle a case through mediation as one of the dispute resolution mechanism the Court provides.

This is a sign that Member States have appreciated other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to reduce on the costs involved in public litigation process.

“It is incumbent on all of us in the profession of international law, whether we are judges, government advisors, scholars or practitioners, to strengthen and promote the various means for settling disputes peacefully. As Judges of the East African Court of Justice, we will always be mindful of this responsibility,” remarked Judge President.

He concluded by informing the Chief Justice that her being the Chair of the Chief Justices’ forum, the Court has no doubt will find her full support in harmonizing a number of judicial issues across the region to enable the fundamental principles of the Community are achieved.

Justice Kayobera commended Lady Justice Koome for accepting to host the next meeting of the Chief Justices’ Forum which is scheduled to take place December 2021 here in Nairobi, Kenya.

In attendance were the EACJ Vice President Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire and other Judges of the Court and staff.

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East-Africa

Schools in Burundi Reopen With Disregard For Covid-19

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Schools in Burundi reopened early this week bringing an end to more than two months of vacation.

Egide Harerimana, a journalist attached to Iwacu, a private media critical of the Gitega based government, has taken a quick observation of the reopening of the schools.

According to Harerimana, while the start of the school year is happening in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, the barrier measures are not respected in some schools in the town hall of Bujumbura.

For good reason, insufficient desk benches and the high number of pupils and schoolchildren.

It is 10 a.m. at the Kamenge III primary school north of the city of Bujumbura. Classes haven’t started yet. The students play in the yard. A reunion after two months of long vacation.

Some even go so far as to kiss. Others look at their names on the bulletin board lists. No one cares about covid-19.

The washing kits are there but there is no soap, physical distancing is almost non-existent, the wearing of masks as well. There are risks of contamination.

“The situation is worrying. At a time when we are talking about an upsurge in positive cases, no measures have been taken to protect our children “, deplores a parent who met on the spot.

He calls on the school administration and the government to take all possible measures to protect students from covid-19.

The school administration says it reminded students to strictly observe barrier measures to prevent covid-19.

However, she does not deny a relaxation in the application of barrier gestures.

“It’s difficult to respect physical distancing with all these children,” says Hildegarde Banyankindagiye, headmistress of the primary school (ECOFO) Kamenge III.

She evokes a problem of lack of desk benches: “Three students share a desk bench. Normally, it should be at most two students on a bench to respect the physical distance but it is impossible “.

Time check, 11 a.m. at the Buyenzi municipal high school in Mukaza commune. A few students are in the classroom and others are entering. No one wears a mask.

In classrooms, two or three of them sit on small desks. Difficult to keep a distance between two students. There are no wash kits. Even on the two taps installed, the students wash their hands without soap.

“I wash my hands before I go to class. But in the classroom the situation is dangerous. We’re too tight, without a mask. There are risks of contamination, ”laments a 8th grade student at the same school.

According to Olive Habonimana, director of the municipal high school Buyenzi, it is difficult to control the pupils with respect to the barrier measures.

“We try to sensitize them but sometimes they forget the instructions, kiss or even shake hands,” She explains that wearing a mask is not mandatory.

The situation was the same at the Rohero Municipal High School. On this day of the start of the school year, the activities had not yet started. The pupils formed small groups in class to discuss, share how they spent their holidays.

Observation; they do not wear a mask and do not respect physical distancing. Yet, they came from different parts of the city, where covid-19 is reported.

“It’s difficult to prevent possible contamination when the students are external. We reminded them to wear masks on buses and to wash their hands when they arrive at school, ”said Gertrude Simbananiye, principal of Rohero Municipal High School.

She explains that her school has a high number of students, which is why it is impossible to maintain physical distancing in the classroom.

“Some classes have more than 80 students. So three students must share a desk bench, ”regrets the principal, adding that even classrooms are narrow and cannot contain many desk benches.

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East-Africa

President Ndayishimiye Launches Population Census in Burundi

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The excersise to count every Burundian in the much isolated East African country was officially flagged off by President Evariste Ndayishimiye on Friday.

President Ndayishimiye launched activities of the general census of the population, habitat, agriculture and breeding scheduled for 2022.

He urged his compatriots , each as far as he is concerned to invest in the success of this census so that decision-makers can know the real life situation of Burundian citizens.

Ndayishimiye indicated that the general census under preparation will provide objective figures which will help to know the personnel to be aligned on the fight against poverty.

According to him, the next general census will provide the opportunity to assess what has happened since the last census in 2008 and the economic situation of Burundi.

On this occasion, the President specified that the results of this census will serve as a basis for the implementation of public policies adapted to the real needs of the population.

He added that the general census of 2022 will make it possible to know the number of the population by age groups, and especially the number of young people, which will facilitate the State to take strategies to prepare for a better future.

Ndayishimiye says this census will also provide a good opportunity for the State to make the population understand that it is necessary to give birth to children that we can bear.

It was also an opportunity for the Head of State to call on the entire Burundian population to prepare to respond massively to this census, inviting all the administrators and leaders to sensitize the population on the importance of being registered.

“We have integrated the basic modules of agriculture and livestock in the general census population and housing and data collection will be done using new information and communication technologies,” he said.

On behalf of technical and financial partners friends of Burundi, the representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) appealed to the Government of Burundi to complete the process of setting up the Central Census Bureau, the central technical body of execution and condition sine qua non for the optimal realization and the success of this census.

Because of the importance of the 4th general census of Burundi, the representative of UNFPA in Burundi called on politicians, administrators, religious men and women, members of civil society and the private sector to call for the mobilization and support from all.

He reaffirmed the readiness of UNFPA and the United Nations system to continue mobilizing global expertise in the field of censuses and additional resources to support the diligent completion of this important operation in accordance with international standards until dissemination and development.

It should be noted that this general census of the population, housing, agriculture and livestock in 2022 will last 21 days and that the cost is estimated at BIF 48,556,797,000 (U$24,458,583).

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Crime

East African Community Urged to Fight Wildlife Crimes

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Sylvester Mwakitalu the President of EA Association of Prosecutors (EAAP) has called on the EAC partner states to cooperate in curbing wildlife crimes.

Mwakitalu who is also the Director of Public Prosecution in Tanzania said it was crucial for EAC countries to join forces in addressing transnational organised crime.

“The scourge of tourism and wildlife crimes leaves us with no option other than cooperating,” said Mwakitalu, while addressing the 9th EAAP annual general meeting on Monday.

He also noted the importance of the EAC partner states to fully engage in the repatriation of offenders and exchange of information. Mwakitalu warned that wildlife criminals were getting more sophisticated each day, hence the need for forging cooperation.

Meanwhile, his Kenyan counterpart DPP Noordin Haji advocated for the harmonisation of policies in curbing trans-border crimes.

“This will be an important step especially when we are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic,” Noordin said.

He also rooted for joint collaboration among partner states, singling out Kenya’s move of returning gold to Tanzania as a perfect example of collaboration among partner states.

Two years ago, Kenya returned 35kg of gold seized in the country by Police to Tanzania.

According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the 46-year-old man had arrived from Mwanza via Kilimanjaro and was heading to Dubai.

On his part, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and social sectors Christophe Bazivamo lauded the prosecutors for safeguarding justice within the region by streamlining delivery of justice by enhancing cooperation among partner states through detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes within the region.

Bazivamo told prosecutors that the EAC, through the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (EAACA) had endeavoured to pursue monetary and asset recovery in cases of transnational crimes in the region.

“We have engaged in several regional training programmes that have resulted in improved skills in asset recovery, crime detection, investigations, whistleblower and witness protection among others,” he added.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General however acknowledged that the community has encountered numerous challenges in its efforts to counter the prevalence of transnational crimes and wildlife crimes.

EAAP is an association of National Prosecution Authorities of East Africa, whose mandate is to promote and facilitate cooperation among its member states through detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes in the region as well as to offer legal assistance to its members.

 

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