Today, during a breakfast meeting at Kampala Sheraton Hotel, the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) and the Ministry of East African Community Affairs (MEACA) launched the second phase of the alignment of Uganda’s laws to the Common Market Protocol. This is in line with the EAC Council of Ministers Directive for all Partner States to approximate their national laws and to harmonize their policies and systems for purposes of implementing the Common Market Protocol (CMP).
The EAC Common Market Protocol was launched in July 2010 and heralded a range of new freedoms and rights for the people of the East African Community (EAC). These included the free movement of goods, services, labour and capital and the rights to establishment and residence. A fully implemented CMP has the potential to change the region by expanding opportunities for the citizens to move and trade not only internally but also with the rest of the world. However, these aspirations can only be a reality if steps are taken by Partner States to fulfill the commitments undertaken by aligning and harmonising their laws and policies to the provisions of the Common Market Protocol.
In March 2012, the Uganda Law Reform Commission undertook a needs assessment of key laws to establish their compliance with the CMP. A total of 57 principal laws were identified for further review and alignment. In October 2012, ULRC and the Ministry of EAC Affairs, supported by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) undertook the first phase of the review and alignment of identified laws. 21 laws were targeted including immigration laws, and laws affecting professional associations e.g. Architects and Accountants were reviewed, of which 11 laws and a number of subsidiary legislation were found not to be compliant with the CMP. Recommendations for re-alignment with the Protocol were made and this culminated in the draft Omnibus bill that was initially tabled before the Cabinet and is currently under discussion by different stakeholders.
The launch of the second phase today seeks to target the remaining 36 laws identified in the Needs Assessment, and also to identify laws and regulations that contribute to Non-Tariff Barriers. In addition, the recently launched East African Common Market Scorecard 2014 (IFC/ EAC) examines commitments made by Partner States under the CMP, outlines status in removing legislative and regulatory restrictions and identifies a number of non-conforming measures legal, policy and in practice.
ULRC and MEACA with the support of TradeMark East Africa are now undertaking the second phase to align key laws to the CMP. The launch is aimed at bringing together key stakeholders in government, parliament, private sector and civil society to provide an update on progress under Phase 1 and to share the proposed approach and key areas for investigation under phase 2.
Speaking at the launch, the Secretary ULRC Lucas Omara said “We believe this is the beginning of yet another successful partnership with MEACA and other MDAs like the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce to tackle the huge task to align national laws to the CMP. The second phase of the law alignment project will not only address the remaining 36 laws under the Needs Assessment, but will also enable us to identify and make recommendations on key areas that require legal and policy amendments.”
Edith Mwanje, the Permanent Secretary of MEACA, called upon all stakeholders and MDAs to fully participate and support the project to ensure that Uganda fulfills its commitments under the CMP. The Permanent Secretary further reiterated the Ministry’s continued support to ensuring that laws reviewed under Phase 1 would be presented to Parliament for amendment.
Allen Asiimwe, Country Director of TMEA hailed the implementing institutions ULRC and MEACA for their efforts that led to the success of the first phase “we are excited that the Government of Uganda (GoU) is taking steps to make the CMP a reality for the people of Uganda by aligning its laws to the Protocol; TMEA is committed to facilitating GoU agencies to successfully review and align its key laws to the CMP”