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East African Community Execution of Common Travel Document Hits Snag of

Lack of equipment to read national identity cards has put a mass regional identification project on a halt, The New Times has learnt.

Of the five partner states, Uganda and Burundi are yet to have the electronic readable identity cards Rwanda and three other partner states of the East African Community (EAC) namely Uganda, Kenya and Burundi in 2009 under the Common Market protocol arrangement, agreed to use national identity cards as travel documents.

The delay prompted the current Chairman of the EAC Heads of State Summit President Mwai Kibaki to call for a speedy implementation of the decision.

"Efforts are on to have this running and there have been delays because of factors like lack of equipment like machines to read the electronic identity cards at bilateral level," Permanent Secretary of the Ministry in charge of EAC Affairs, Amb. George William Kayonga said.

Of the five partner states, Uganda and Burundi are yet to have the electronic readable identity cards.

The principle of free movement of persons is contained in the Common Market Protocol agreed on by all the five EAC partner states and that came into force in July 2010.

On the Heads of State signing the EAC protocol on cooperation in defence, Kayonga said this would rejuvenate the already ongoing efforts in military cooperation like joint military training and games.

The Heads of State directed that the protocol be ratified and instruments of ratification deposited with the Secretary General by 30th November and that the negotiations on mutual defence pact commence immediately thereafter.

The summit, held under the theme; Towards a single customs territory, also adopted in principle the destination model of clearance of goods where assessment and collection is at the first point of entry and revenues remitted to the destination partner state subject to the fulfilment of key pre-conditions to be developed by the High Level Task Force.

On ensuring that justice prevails in the region, the Heads of State called for the expedited amendment of the EAC Treaty to extend jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) to cover, among others, crimes against humanity.

Lately, there have been growing criticism on why cases against humanity committed in the region should be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), yet the EAC has a regional court that should handle them.

BY GASHEGU MURAMIRA
The New Times
2 MAY 2012

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