The legislative organ of the East African Community has put human traffickers on notice by adopting a motion urging the Council of Ministers to combat trafficking of persons in the region.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), sitting in Nairobi, Kenya, adopted the motion moved by MP Dora Byamukama (Uganda) calling on partner states to ratify the UN Trafficking in Persons (UN TIP) Protocol and to enact legislation to address the crime.
The Assembly also suggested that the Council of Ministers tables, every twelve months in the Assembly, a status report on action taken to combat trafficking in persons.
“The Resolution states that despite the benefits of the Customs Union and the Common Market, trans-border movement of goods and persons has been enhanced and thus increasing the potential for persons to be trafficked within and without the EAC,” reads part of an EALA statement.
The five EAC partner states are signatory to the UN TIP Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
Meanwhile, EALA reportedly wants the implementation of cross border broadband networks to facilitate the integration of ICT networks and affordable costs of cross-border communications.
To harmonise roaming on call costs, EALA wants the Council of Ministers to push for the introduction of uniform price cap regulation for roaming mobile costs within the EAC.
The Assembly say that this shall enable consumers to enjoy the benefits of competitive calling rates. Regulators on their part should encourage all mobile operators in the region to adopt one network approach as applied by Airtel Telecommunication Company.
“In order to be holistic, national and regional policy and regulatory frameworks should address the entire ICT eco-system if these countries and the region are to build a sustainable communication sector and to take advantage of the opportunities created by the global digital revolution,” a section of a related EALA report states.
MP Yves Nsabimana (Burundi) noted that harmonisation of policies would be recommended despite the challenges it poses. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Phyllis Kandie, lauded the move saying it would attract investors.
The House was informed that although the region had made important strides in the development of ICT Policy and regulatory framework, regulators needed to emphasise timely implementation and update their e-strategies.
To realize this, the Assembly recommends enhanced partnership between the EAC and East African Communication Organisation (EACO) so as to create synergies and contribute to building of a competitive knowledge economy in East Africa.
Meanwhile, another motion for a resolution on Strategies for slum upgrading and prevention in the EAC moved by Nancy Abisai was also adopted.
The resolution states that 50 per cent of the world’s population already live in cities, the vast majority of whom depend on less than a dollar per day, and without safe drinking water. In this group, most dwellers are under the age of 25 and have no serious prospects for meaningful employment.
According to EALA, there is currently high rate of urbanisation increasing poverty and escalation of housing costs and prices and this is a challenge of housing to the ordinary citizens within the bloc.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers, Uganda’s minister for EAC affairs, Shem Bageine, noted that different land tenure systems in the Partner States are having an effect on urban development including agriculture. He noted that Partner States also lacked the requisite resources to be able to develop housing for all.