THE East African Community (EAC) has come out with a clarification on the use of the East African passport after previous media reports “wrongly reported” that the EAC had suspended its use.
An EAC communiqué Friday noted that following a media conference two weeks ago, which the Secretary General of the East African Community held in Arusha to announce and promote the 3rd East African Investment Conference, some newspapers in the region wrongly reported that the EAC had suspended the use of the East African Passport.
“It should be clarified that the EAC Secretary General at no time has he stated that the use of the East African Passport has been suspended. In fact, neither the East African Community Secretariat nor the EAC Secretary General has authority on matters related to issuance of passports,” reads part of the statement.
“As a result, it has now surfaced that, apparently, some Immigration Officers have been refusing to accept the East African Passport as a valid travel document”.
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration also pointed out that Rwandan immigration officers are not among those in the region who possibly refuse to accept the bloc’s travel document.
Innocent Niyonsenga, the Directorate’s spokesperson told The Sunday Times late Friday that the document is accepted in Rwanda.
“To date, we accept the use of the East African Passport as a valid travel document – no official announcement has ever been made to stop its use,” Niyonsenga underscored.
According to the EAC communiqué, the fact that the passport is called the East African Passport in no way invokes the involvement of the EAC in matters related to passports.
“It is only the National Immigration Departments of the EAC Partner States that have authority over passport matters. It is the same authorities that have powers to also suspend the issue of the same,” reads the statement.
“In this context, it can only be deemed as a paradox that an Immigration Officer at any station in the region should even think that the EAC Secretariat or the EAC Secretary General has suspended the use of the East African Passport.”
The EAC stresses that the correct position is that the East African Passport is and remains a valid travel document in the EAC region.