KIGALI - About 400 lawyers from the East African Community have arrived in the country for the 14th Annual General Assembly and Conference to be held in Rwanda for the first time. About 600 were expected to attend the meeting.
The conference organised by the East Africa Law Society (EALS), will be opened by President Paul Kagame on Friday. It will also bring together barristers from west and southern Africa as well as Europe.
Addressing a press conference yesterday ahead of the meeting, the President of the EALS, Dr. Allan Shonubi, said that for the conference to be held in Rwanda for the first times, sends a strong signal of the country’s commitment to steer regional integration to the next level.
“The conference presents us with a chance to showcase Rwanda. Many people from the region have never been to Rwanda. Much as it is very near, they don’t know the opportunities that exist in this country,”
“Rwanda is one of the few EAC countries which has been spot-on, it has been the first in allowing cross-border trade and there are little restrictions on other lawyers practicing in Rwanda-----it will be good for all these lawyers to see the opportunities available in this country,” Shonubi who hails from Uganda said.
The conference whose theme is “Advancing the Status of East Africa: Business, Integration and International Justice”, will also attract speakers from the continent and world fora.
The Chief Economist at the African Development Bank, Dr. Louis Kasekende, has confirmed he will participate and will be representing the Bank’s President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.
Other invited guests expected to grace the conference include the Secretary General of the East African Community, Hon Juma Mwapachu, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Hon Liberata Mulamula among other key international speakers.
The meeting takes place hot on the heels of the EAC Summit that saw the signing of the Protocol of the Common Market last week in Arusha.
There shall be a special session on the Role of Bar Associations in the Common Market to be addressed by Amason Jeffa Kingi, Kenya’s Minister for EAC, Monique Mukaruliza, Minister for EAC from Rwanda and Hon Mathias Chikawe, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Other topics of discussions include: Promoting International and transitional Justice, Doing Business in East Africa and the Development of Legal Aid in East Africa: A comparative analysis of the Partner States.
It is also anticipated that the legal fraternity will discuss at length International Justice, human rights and conflict resolution, dedicating an entire afternoon session to discuss the matter.
In addition, there shall be another session on the balance between individual liberties and maintenance of peace and security.
The East Africa Law Society (EALS) is the premier regional Bar Association formed in 1995 by a visionary group of lawyers and the leadership of the national Bar associations in the East African Community (EAC) region.
It is a dual membership organization, bringing together about ten thousand individual lawyer-members as well as the six national Bar Associations: Burundi Bar Association, Kigali Bar Association, Law Society of Kenya, Tanganyika Law Society, Uganda Law Society, and Zanzibar Law Society.
Vincent Karangwa, the head of the Kigali Bar Association, revealed at the press conference that the assembly will be a springboard for Rwandan barristers to venture into the regional legal market.