Immigration and Labour
Accelerating economic growth and development of the Partner States by facilitating the free movement of persons and labour through the adoption of common policies and procedures.
Immigration and Integration of Countries
In the last few decades a new phenomenon has emerged in the world stage. There has been a movement towards integration. There has been a realisation that when countries pool their resources together they can realise great growth and security that would in a major way improve the lives of their citizens. This calls for the alignment of government departments with the objectives of the integrating states. Immigration is a key player in any integration process because it deals with people’s movements and the movers of factors of production.
Migration in EAC Context
The concept of migration in East Africa may be traced way back to the pre‐colonial era. It was characterised by the non‐existence of “boundaries” as we known in the contemporary world. In East Africa, there existed strong interaction of societies, free movement of persons and goods. This state of affairs was facilitated by strong cultural and tribal linkages. Such linkages forged strong bondages, reinforced by barter trade between clans.
With creation of the former East African Community in 1967 and following the signing of a Treaty of cooperation between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, the free movement of persons within the region was ensured as one of the key elements of cooperation.
Unfortunately, the EAC disintegrated in 1977 due to political differences between Partner States. Nonetheless, after a period of about two decades, the three countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania renewed efforts to restore the past glory of the East African Community, and the governments of the three countries made commitments to re‐establish their ties. These efforts later led to the rebirth of the East African Community in 1999, with the signing of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. The three founding members of the Community were later joined by Rwanda and Burundi in 2007 to make the EAC a five‐member regional economic bloc.
Under article 104 of the Treaty, the Partner States agreed to adopt measures to achieve free movement of persons, labor and services and to ensure the enjoyment of the right of establishment and residence of their citizens within the community.
In order to facilitation citizen’s enjoyment of the aforementioned rights and freedoms, the Partner States concluded the Protocol for Establishment of the East African Community Common Market. By virtue of article 151 of the treaty, protocols are integral parts of the Treaty. The Protocol came into forth with effect from 1st July 2010 upon ratification by all the Partner States.
Migration in the context of the protocol may be reflected under several provisions. These include article 5 which provides for the scope of the protocol in the implementation of the Common Market and strategies for realisation of the rights and freedoms of citizens; ease of cross border movement of persons and adaption of integrated border management; removal of restrictions on movement of labor; services and the right of establishment and residence.
For purpose of identifying the citizens of Partner’s States, and pursuant to article 8 of the protocol, Partner States agreed to establish a common standard system of issuing identification documents to their national. In accordance with article 9, citizens are expected to use a valid common standard travel document and Partner States who so wish, to use machine readable and electronic national identity cards as travel documents may do so.
The freedom of movement of workers is catered for under article 10, where Partner States guaranteed free movement of workers who are citizens of other Partner States within their territories. The article also provides for entitlement of workers in regard to application for employment, free movement in Partner States, conclude contracts of employment, and enjoy rights and freedoms of association.
Under article 11, Partner States undertook to mutually recognise the academic and professional qualifications granted, experience obtained requirements met, licenses or certifications granted in other Partner States; and harmonise their educational curricula, examinations, standards, certification and accreditation of education and training institutions. This article is intended to actualise free movement of labor.
In regard to harmonisation of labor policies and for purposes of guaranteeing free movement of labor, article 12 provides that, Partner States agreed to harmonisation of labor policies, laws, and national laws and programmes to enable free movement of labor within the community. In addition, national social security policies, laws and systems of partner states are expected to be reviewed and harmonised.
Furthermore, the protocol under articles 13 and 16 provide the establishment of nationals of the their Partner States within their territories; and free movement of movement of services supplied by nationals of Partner States and the free movement of service suppliers who are nationals of the Partner States within the Community respectively.
In terms of refugee management, the East African Community is home to hundreds of thousands refugees due to the regions proximity to centres of conflicts within the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. Accordingly, article 124(5)(h) of the Treaty, Partner States agreed to establish common mechanisms for management of refugees. In addition, article 7(8) of the Protocol, stipulates that the movement of refugees will be governed by relevant international conventions. In view of the foregoing Treaty and Protocol provisions on refugee management, the Chiefs of Refugee Management are in process of development of the EAC refugee management policy and action plan.
Globally, there were 232 million international migrants by 2013 with the largest numbers residing in Europe (72 million) and Asia (71 million). While international migration between continents receives significant attention, most international migrants move over smaller distances. Whereas Northern America and Oceania draw most of their international migrants from other regions, the majority of migrants in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean reside in the region in which they were born. (UN report on International Migration 2014).