19 October 2012

East Africa: Veep Calls for Rule of Law in Comesa Region

VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott has called for development of legal instruments in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region that will ensure intra-trade contributes to poverty alleviation.

Dr Scott said COMESA Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General should take time to examine legal instruments and ensure intra-COMESA trade backed wealth creation at the grassroots levels.

He was speaking in Lusaka yesterday when he opened the 16th meeting of COMESA Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General.

"To this effect, I call upon all COMESA member States to work together in promoting the rule of law in our region," Dr Scott said.

He said there was need for free and fair trade, and a trading regime where anti-competitive practices and behaviour were not tolerated so that micro, small and medium enterprises were given an opportunity to participate in COMESA intra-trade.

He said the COMESA Court of Justice should continue to play a critical role in promoting law and order.

"We in Zambia, like in most COMESA member States, are now enjoying the fruits of the rule of law as it has enabled us to have a smooth transition of power of governments, thereby ensuring that we adhere to our commitments under Article 6 of the COMESA Treaty where we made a commitment to uphold democracy and the rule of law," he said.

Dr Scott said member States should ensure that legal instruments agreed upon were enforced by having their requisite signatures and ratifications.

The Vice-President said the success of COMESA programmes depended on the solid legal foundations to be created by ministers of Justice and Attorneys General.

Earlier, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said the meeting was important as it would, among other issues, consider matters relating to the COMESA Court of Justice which articulated modalities by legal and natural persons to access justice and relief.

Mr Ngwenya urged participants to review the provisions of the treaty to ensure they were consistent with the provisions of Article 23.

The article states that "the Court shall have jurisdiction to adjudicate upon all matters which may be referred to it pursuant to the Treaty."

Giving a vote of thanks, Zimbabwean Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa assured that the participants would carry out the deliberations diligently

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