East African Community

The goal of the fact-finding mission to the East African Community conducted fromMarch to June 2005 was to contribute to the implementation of a rights-sensitive approach to citizenship and identity in the East African region. The objectives of the fact-finding mission were two-fold, namely to: subject the first principle of people-centered cooperation in the East African Community Treaty (Article 7) to critical scrutiny in order to contribute to the evolution of a truly inclusive and rights-sensitive East African Community; and to assess the effectiveness of legal and policy frameworks for regional integration in East Africa with reference to citizenship and identity.

In spite of the fact that the concept of citizenship is an extremely contested one and more often used as a weapon to deny people their fundamental entitlements and protection, within the region, lamentably, the East African Community Treaty is silent on the issue of citizenship. While the East African Community Treaty professes to be committed to the free movement of capital (Article 86), it is more equivocal on the free movement of people, relegating this right to the second stage in the evolution from a Customs Union to a Common Market. It was therefore important to analyse whether in pursuance of the first principle of people-centered cooperation (Article 7), the people are indeed the true beneficiaries of the cooperation and what can be done to make the East African Community build on their experiences in order to evolve a truly inclusive and rights-sensitive Community.  Again, there are numerous laws that are of nuisance value to East Africans such as tourist and student visa fees of East Africans within East Africa, which need to be scrapped.

There are also various positive policy decisions, which have been taken at the East African Community level but have not been implemented and which require to be tracked down, publicized and acted upon. In view of the above, the Fact Finding Mission was deemed particularly relevant and timely at this stage in the development of the Community given the decision by the Heads of States to Fast Track towards the Political Federation. The Fact Finding Mission was also considered necessary as a way of minimizing the so many crises of identity and exclusion that have characterized the history of the region - a region which has witnessed more than its share of ethnic tension, mass expulsion and rabid discriminatory treatment against different categories of people over the years. 

To this end, the Mission placed focus on marginalized and excluded groups who traditionally do not have a voice even within the communities in which they live, among them migrants, fisher-folk, small scale traders and transporters, students, refugees and cross border communities who ply the porous borders of the three countries in the region.  Further, the Mission also explored the various strategies used to address the contemporary regional tensions relating to citizenship and identity in East Africa.

In addition, the Mission addressed questions of inclusion and identity, for purposes of setting the context of people's expectations about regional integration.  In particular, how the East African Community has addressed issues of citizenship and identity, for while there have of recent not been any large-scale expulsions, the periodic round-up of aliens targets the citizens of each country, even as the three governments pay lip-service to the idea of regional cooperation, equal treatment of their respective citizenry remains a challenge. Based on the principle of good governance enshrined in Article 6, overall the Mission explored whether the manner in which citizenship, nationality and identity issues are addressed enhances social justice, equal opportunity, gender equality as well as the recognition, promotion and protection of human and people's rights.

The ultimate aim of the Mission at the East African Community was to take audit of the developments at the East African Community and to analyze the East African Community's social impact and preparedness in responding to citizens needs and rights.  At the East African Community, the key questions of inquiry included what programmes the East African Community had undertaken to implement the principle of people centredness. What else needs to be done to involve the people of East Africa in the EAC programmes and to therefore make the East African Community more meaningful to the lives of the various people of East Africa. Members of the Fact-finding Mission were from Kenya, Tanzania mainland, Zanzibar and Uganda.

The mission team comprised the following members: Prof. Rev. John Mary Waliggo, member of the Uganda Human Rights Commission and Head of Mission (Uganda); Hon. Miria Matembe, Member of the Pan African Parliament and Member of the Parliament of Uganda (Uganda); Ms. Katindi Sivi from the Institute of Economic Affairs, Nairobi (Kenya); Dr. Sifuni E. Mchome, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania); Mr. Abdullah Juma, a Journalist and Deputy Managing Director, Zanzibar Leo Newspaper (Zanzibar); Ms. Judy Kamanyi, Executive Director Kituo cha Katiba (Uganda); Ms. Maria Nassali, a Consultant (Uganda) and Ms. Edith Kibalama, Programme Officer, Kituo cha Katiba (Uganda).