Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) who assessed Rwanda’s implementation of the EAC Treaty requirement on harmonization of national laws were impressed by the progress made at the end of their assignment this week.
Shortly before he left Kigali on Friday, Martin Ngoga, who led the team from EALA’s Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges, told Sunday Times that the progress in Rwanda is partly explained by the prevailing political will to get things done.
Ngoga said: “We met important stakeholders, and we have the impression that in Rwanda, a lot has been done in terms of harmonization of laws. I think this is partly because most Rwandan institutions have been undergoing reforms recently and as a result most legislations are comparatively new.
“This is of course in addition to a political desire to ensure the country’s legislations are compliant to international obligations in force in the EAC and elsewhere. It is also helped by the desire to align legislations to the best practices in the market”.
Harmonization of national laws is one of the critical steps required to facilitate regional integration.
While Ngoga and his team were in Kigali, other members of the committee were in other Partner States conducting the same exercise and, he said, the task ahead now is for them to put notes together with their colleagues “for deliberations and then determine the way forward.”
In Kigali, Ngoga was accompanied by lawmakers Frederic Ngenzebuhoro (Burundi), Oda Gasinzigwa (Rwanda) and Dr François Xavier Kalinda (Rwanda).
The EAC Treaty (Article 126) provides that Partner States shall through their appropriate national institutions take all necessary steps to harmonize all their national laws appertaining to the Community.
In the past, the EAC Council of Ministers, the central decision-making and governing organ of the Community, established a sub-committee on the approximation of national Laws to spearhead the process of harmonization of national laws in the EAC.
The sub-committee headed by Law Reform Commissions of Partner States works under the Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs. This sub-committee previously considered a number of laws including those governing contracts, immigration, labour and employment, insolvency, sale of goods and intellectual property and made specific recommendations on the areas that each Partner State is required to work on.
In a report adopted by EALA in March, the Committee cited challenges including lack of monitoring mechanisms to ensure Partner States comply with the adopted approximation proposals, frequent changes in the membership of the Task Force, and conflicting commitments by members.
More than 600 laws need to be harmonised to facilitate the EAC realize its common market goals.
Ngoga emphasized that Partner States need to harmonize laws to ease the implementation of the various protocols they assented to. His team held discussions with officials the Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs; the Rwanda Law Reform Commission; the Immigration directorate, and others.