COMESA works towards migration laws relaxation

COMESA The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries have stepped up efforts to relax migration regulations. COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya says there is political will at a very high level in the region, to ensure that there is free movement of people among Member States adding that the COMESA Model Law on Immigration was adopted by the COMESA Council Ministers as far back as May 2006.

Secretary General Ngwenya made this pronouncement at the opening of the COMESA’s 7th Meeting of Chief Immigration Officers, taking place on 14-15 March 2011, at the COMESA Headquarters, Lusaka Zambia. He called upon for a speed implementation of the free movement of people. “The full implementation of the COMESA programme on Free Movement is key to the successful attainment of a well integrated Common Market” emphasized Mr. Ngwenya,  adding that COMESA has made strides in the free movement of goods, and that if goods are free to move yet traders are not, it would be difficult to fully realise integration.

Secretary General Ngwenya took the opportunity to congratulate the countries that have signed the protocol “May I take this opportunity to congratulate the four COMESA Member States that have signed the Protocol on Free Movement, namely: Burundi; Kenya; Rwanda; and Zimbabwe. In addition, I would also like to commend Burundi for having deposited her instrument of ratification with the COMESA Secretariat” said Mr Ngwenya.

The Chief Immigration officer meeting was held ahead of the  4th COMESA’s  Meeting of Ministers responsible for immigration that was held on 16-17 February 2011.Both meetings  benefited from the technical assistance provided under the framework of the joint European Commission (EC) and International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) Migration EU Expertise initiative –MIEUX.

The Ministerial meeting was opened by the Zambian Vice president and Minister of Justice George Kunda. The meetings were also attended by representatives from the AU, EU, the  International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO ).

The objective of the meetings is to promote free movement of persons, services and labour within the COMESA integration Agenda through the following areas of focus; (i) implementation of the Protocol and Council Decisions on movement of persons, services and labour; (ii) harmonisation of national laws with the COMESA model law on immigration; and (iii) cooperation on immigration matters among COMESA Members States to facilitate trade.

To enhance a buy in  and understanding of the above issues  ICMPD committed to fund two workshops for immigration practitioners, the first workshop will be held in Swaziland from  June 2011, and the second one will be  held in partnership with the African Union Commission,  in Addis Ababa in September 2011.

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