More than 600 lawyers from the East African countries have today (Wednesday) converged in Mombasa to discuss African continental free trade.
The delegates, from across all six-member bar associations, will discuss rule of law, professional development, justice administration, regional integration, gender and youth mainstreaming and business and human rights.
The six bar associations include the Law Society of Kenya, Uganda Law Society, Tanganyika Law Society, Rwanda Bar Association, Burundi Bar Association and Zanzibar Law Society.
The theme of the conference which will be held at Pride Inn Hotel in Mombasa is “African Continental Free Trade Area: Challenges and Opportunities for the Legal Profession”.
The East Africa Law Society President Richard Mugisha said the event’s theme was as a result of the current cross-border trade revolution in the continent.
“The legal profession plays a leading role in shaping policies and laws governing commerce, and lawyers must be at the frontline in understanding the components of the regional and continental trade pacts.
The agreement that our countries have gotten into in matters trade requires guidance and the bulk of that work rests with lawyers and that is why we have focused on building capacity on this area among our members,” said Mr Mugisha during a press briefing at the Pride Inn hotel.
Mr Mugisha said during the event, the society’s first index study will be unveiled, which will among other issues highlight the areas that need to be addressed by countries that have entered agreements on free cross-border trade.
“We will be petitioning the East African courts based on the outcome of our first report. We are focused in ensuring business is done smoothly among our countries,” he said.
Law Society of Kenya President Allen Gichuhi said the discussions will be instrumental in ensuring trade deals are also enforced.
He said the region has in the past been getting what he termed as “raw deal” from foreign countries adding that it is through the agreement that African countries get in that businesses will be safe guarded.
“We will ensure that the resolutions that we will agree upon as a society are fully implemented for the sake of our region,” said Mr Gichuhi.