By Elite News Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni’s government has been dragged to court over allegations of blocking Rwandan lawyers from practicing in Uganda.
The Attorney General of Uganda will soon appear before the East African Court of Justice to defend his country over accusations of denying lawyers trained in Rwanda from enrolling and practicing law in Uganda.
The case was filed by Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (iPeace) – a Rwanda-registered Non-Governmental Organization on June 30, 2020.
This case stems from the decision rendered by the High Court of Uganda on 13 may 2020 where Andrew M. Bataamwe was ruled ineligible for enrolment as an advocate in Uganda because he holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from Rwanda, considered as a country practicing civil law system.
According to Dr. Elvis Mbembe Binda, the Legal Representative of iPeace, this ruling is based on a legal provision of the Ugandan Advocates (Amendment) Act, 2002 that is contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community.
He said that through the Treaty and the Common Market Protocol, EAC Partner States including Uganda committed to mutually recognize the academic and professional qualifications granted, experience obtained, requirements met, licenses or certification granted, in other Partner States as a way to facilitate the free movement of workers from one country to another.
In relation to legal professionals, the Republic of Uganda committed to remove all restrictions in its laws by 2010.
“Therefore, any provision in Ugandan laws subjecting legal practice in Uganda to the obtaining of a degree or diploma from Uganda or from a ‘Common Law’ country is a violation of the EAC Law,” Binda added.
Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan are member states of the East African Community.
The Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community promotes the free movement of goods, persons, workers, services and capital between the partner states without any kind of discrimination.
But the implementation of this Treaty and its protocols has been encountering resistance from Partner States for a while following tensions between some of them.
For iPeace, this case is filed within its public interest litigation framework that the organization uses to advance human rights and equality, or raise issues of broad public concern.
iPeace considers this case as a way to remind partner states their treaty obligations and to ensure that EAC laws are effectively implemented across the Community for the benefit of all East Africans.
Although this case is about the freedom of establishment of lawyers, the ruling of the East African Court of Justice will have an incidence on the implementation of the free movement of workers in general and on the enjoyment of related freedoms and rights enshrined in the EAC Treaty that many Partner States tend to overlook.
Initiatives for Peace and human Rights is a public interest non-profit organization that strives to enhance the culture of peace through human rights and good governance education.
The organization’s mission is to equip communities and individuals with human rights and good governance knowledge and skills to build a global culture of peace.
It is registered in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC with support offices in Belgium and the Netherlands.
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