Stakeholders Deliberate on the Draft Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in the IGAD Region

Stakeholders Deliberate on the Draft Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in the IGAD Region

A workshop to deliberate on the draft Protocol on the Free movement of Persons in the IGAD region has kicked off today in Naivasha Kenya. The three-day workshop aims to get inputs from national stakeholders and experts on benefits of free movement and addressing barriers to free movement of persons and ensuring national interests are represented towards the provisions of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in the IGAD Region.

With the increasing number of movement of migrants, which is likely to persist in the foreseeable future, the management of migration has become one of the critical challenges for IGAD Member States.

The Consultative Workshop brings together experts on migration and related themes as well as all national stakeholders from Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Academia to contribute to effective migration governance.

‘I wish to call on all the experts present to put every effort necessary in order to achieve the ultimate goal of free movement of persons in IGAD region. Some of key benefits that we will enjoy by facilitating free movement of persons and opening up our borders to the world among others include higher tourism and trade volumes, competitive economy, skilled labour exchange and education opportunities as well as social and cultural integration,’

said Hon. Patrick Ole Ntutu, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Interior while giving the Key note speech during the workshop opening ceremony.

He added that the government of Kenya was satisfied with the progress made so far in the negotiation of the draft Protocol since its inception.

‘I hope that this National consultative meeting of Experts’ would review and improve the Draft Protocol. I wish to acknowledge with gratitude the UN Migration Agency, Organization for Migration (IOM) and all development partners for the technical and continued support to the process of facilitating free movement of persons in the IGAD region and Africa as a whole,’

he added.

The CAS echoed the fact that there is need to put in place mechanisms for better migration management, mobility and free movement of persons in the region and the need to refocus the policies and measures to address migration at national, regional and international level.

Delivering the opening speech at the event, the IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the AU/UNECA/IGAD Ms Maureen Achieng noted that the UN Migration Agency believes that migration is a force for good if well managed. She further added that migration has been a constant since the beginning of time with profound revolutions in transportation and communications today making it easier and cheaper to know about and to access opportunities abroad.

‘The lives of countless migrants, their families at home and host communities are better today because of the phenomenon we know as migration,’

she said.

Ms Achieng added that intra African trade is grossly undermined by a stark reality that Africa remains the least integrated of all world regions. She further points out that free movement of persons and free trade are two sides of the same coin with the potential to facilitate economic factors such as skilled labour, SMEs, tourists among others.

Kenya, recently abolished the pre-arrival visa requirement for other African states nationals following in the footsteps of Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Seychelles and Mauritius. This move is proof of Africa’s growing commitment to deepening regional and eventually continental integration.

This meeting that comes following the recent endorsement of the Continental Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment by the 30th ordinary session of the African Union Summit in January 2018 is crucial to the integration agenda of the region and will go a long way to validate Kenya’s national draft Migration Policy Framework that has been in existence for the last eight years which if approved will take into consideration current migration realities and provide comprehensive policy guidelines in an effort to promote migration and development.

Ms Maureen Achieng (IOM) shares a word with Kenya’s Immigration Director General Gordon Khalangwa at the IGAD workshop on 19th February 2018.

Hon Ole Ntutu in his speech acknowledged that before the introduction of the UN Sustainable goals, particularly the global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, Kenya’s approach to migration governance was inclined to whole of government rather than whole of society approach. This missed out on potential opportunities existing in the civil society and private sector that could be tapped to improve migration governance nationally.

Since the introduction of Global Compact on migration, at the National level the government of  Kenya in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) established a National Coordination Mechanism on Migration (NCM) to coordinate the activities of all relevant stakeholders in migration management and governance in the country. Since its inception in July 2016, the NCM has mapped key migration stakeholders among them non-state actors including the civil society, (NGOs, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), academia and private institutions including schools that could add value to the global compact on migration,’

he said.

He however warned that even in deliberation on the draft protocol, stakeholders should be cognizant to the realities that the benefits of free movement of persons, goods and services outweigh the real and potential security and economic challenges that may be perceived and that border security remains an integral part of national security, effective border security and management must address border facilitation and challenges whose key objective is to safeguard the security of citizens, residents and national assets.

‘A coordinated border management approach which is anchored in our laws that created Border Control Operations Coordination Committee (BCOCC) demands that all border stakeholders are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Kenya is secure from all threats emanating outside its territory. Border security missions are diverse and include efforts to address porosity of borders, fight human trafficking and smuggling, prevent crime, maintain safety around borders, counter terrorism, illegal drug control and protect natural resources among others. In reviewing this Draft Protocol, I appeal to the Experts to be guided by the spirit and the objective of the Draft Protocol which is fundamentally to facilitate free movement of persons in the region,’

he concluded.

 

 

 

 

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