The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Beatrice Kiraso, has reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to fighting corruption, saying the vice is negatively affecting trade in the region.
The official made the remarks during the just concluded East African Law Society annual general meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi.
While emphasizing that corruption is an evil that undermines development and provision of social services, Kiraso said that the challenge has not been the absence of instruments to fight the vice at national level, but implementation and enforceability.
“It increases the cost of doing business and in the case of EAC it can be a non-tariff barrier to trade,” she said.
“To effectively market the EAC as a single tourist and investment destination and trade zone and to negotiate effectively as a bloc in international fora, it calls for high levels of integrity, transparency and accountability.”
Kiraso added that a protocol on preventing and combating corruption has been developed covering asset recovery and forfeiture, transfer of criminals and criminal proceedings among other key provisions.
The protocol provides for extradition, judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance and establishes a financial intelligence unit.
On human rights, Kiraso said that the EAC notes the need for harmonisation of strategies and benchmarks in the region towards promotion and protection of human rights, adding that the EAC regional plan of action is under development.
“In this regard, the extension of jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice to include human rights is pertinent,” she added.
The regional bloc has developed a draft protocol on good governance with four pillars which include; constitutionalism, rule of law and access to justice, democracy and democratization processes.
Others are; protection and promotion of human rights and equal opportunities; and combating corruption and enhancing ethics and integrity.