By Michael Okidi
The legal fraternity in Kenya has been urged to be on the ready for possible cross border service delivery as the East African Community (EAC) Integration becomes a practical reality.
The Regional Integration Secretary at the State Department of EAC Integration, Barrack Ndegwa, told a workshop for lawyers in Nakuru on May 3, 2017, that a mutual recognition agreement between the EAC Partner States that would allow for cross border legal practices was in the process of being signed.
He said that the East African Common Market Protocol that came into force in July 2010, provides for free movement of persons, labour and services, hence the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and harmonization of academic and professional certificates that would eventually create one big regional market for East African professionals.
Mr Ndegwa urged the legal practitioners to capitalize on the opportunity provided by the Common Market concept and extend their professional services across the region’s six states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
The Integration Secretary, who represented the Principal Secretary Betty Maina as chief speaker during the forum, said that lawyers would be required to play a massive role in the harmonization of laws that would guide the EAC integration process.
He said that it was important for lawyers to get conversant with the Treaty that established the EAC so that they can make correct and helpful interpretations in cases that require a blend of the treaty and national laws.
“You will be handling a lot of cross border issues in the course of your practice, and proper knowledge of the relevant sections of the EAC treaty would be helpful in your judgements or line of arguments,” he reminded the lawyers.
Earlier, Mr Ndegwa had led a team of officers from the State Department of EAC Integration in paying a courtesy call on Nakuru County Commissioner, Joshwa Nkanatha, in his office.
Accompanied by the Director of Political Affairs at the State Department, David Njoka, the Integration Secretary said the countrywide sensitization of lawyers and other stakeholders was meant to create awareness about the EAC Integration process and how various segments of the Kenyan society could benefit from the same.
Mr Njoka urged the County Commissioner’s office to play a lead role in sensitizing the public on matters of EAC Integration, so that Kenyans are aware of their rights, duties and obligations under the regional integration
The County Commissioner praised the State Department of EAC Integration for mounting the sensitization forums, and called for more such activities targeting other sections of the society so that Kenyans can benefit from the regional bloc.