REPUBLICAN Vice President Inonge Wina has urged members of the Great Lakes Region to explore all possible ways to address their challenges to enable the region attain its vision of transforming into an oasis of peace.
Ms Wina said there were many challenges member states had encountered to domesticate the Protocols as well as the Pact on security, stability and development in the Great Lakes Region but the challenges were not insurmountable.
She challenged member states to expedite the process of domesticating the Pact and its Protocols if the vision of sustainable peace, security, political and social stability, economic growth and development in the Great Lakes Region was to be realised.
Ms Wina urged member states to learn from each other by sharing best practices and experiences on the domestication process.
She was speaking in Livingstone at Avani Victoria Falls Hotel yesterday when she officially opened the meeting of Ministers of Justice of the Great Lakes Region on the domestication of the international conference on the Great Lakes Region Pact and Protocols.
Countries in the Great Lakes Region include Angola, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Zambia, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Republic of Congo.
Ms Wina said she was aware that the domestication process had been slow in most of the member states.
She said the scenario was impeding the attainment of agreed commitments and realisation of the vision for the region due to member states being at different stages of implimentation.
“It is almost a decade since the Pact on security, stability and development in the Great Lakes Region was adopted by 11 Heads of State and Government on the Great lakes Region in December 2006.
“It is therefore expected that obligations that member states assumed upon signing and ratifying the Pact should now translate into action. The most feasible way of doing this is to domesticate the Pact and Protocols and ensure that the provisions therein become part of the national laws of each member state, ” Ms Wina said.
She said the Region was volatile as it was still grappling with issues such h as lack of respect for the rule of law, endemic mismanagement of resources, corruption, human rights abuse, gender based violence, illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, human and drug trafficking as well as illegal exploitation of natural resources.
Ms Wina said the volatility of the Region consequently affordable ted vulnerable groups such as women, children, the aged and persons with disabilities.
She said 10 Protocols and four programmes of action with 33 priority projects were signed and ratified by mm er states in order to protect the rights of all persons especially the vulnerable groups.
Ms Wina said Zambia had formulated policy is and enacted legislation to protect the rights of vulnerable people.
She also said her country had legislation on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, extradition and transfer of convicted persons.
“Using these laws, Zambia has concluded bilateral agreements with some members . of the Great Lakes Region on mutual legal assistance and transfer of convinced teed persons.
“I am glad to state that this cooperation is a step in the attainment of our common vision of peace and security in ted ed his he region.
Speaking at the same meeting, Zambia’s Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula said his country was greatly honored to host the meeting.
Dr Simbyakula said the slow rate at which the domestication process was taking place was affecting the cooperation among member states as certain activities could not be jointly conducted due to different levels of implimenting the Pact.
“Consequently, achievement of the common goal for the Great Lakes Region has been affected.
“This meeting has therefore been convened to find ways of expediting the domestication process,” he said.
Chairperson of the Conference Antonio Bent Bembe said he was convinced that the deliberations at the meeting would contribute to the achievement of goals for the Region.
General Bembe, who is Angola Secretary of State for Human Rights, said there was need to consolidate the rules of different countries so that they gain experiences and practices from each other.
International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) executive secretary Numb Luaba also spoke during the gathering.