Tanzanian Minister of Home Affairs, Emmanuel Nchimbi
Deportation of undocumented immigrants within the East African member states has been criticised as going against the EAC spirit of integration.
Speaking at the second Peace and Security Conference in Bujumbura yesterday, the minister for Water and Environment in Uganda, Ms Betty Bigombe, said it was not proper for EAC member states to speak of integration while at the same time forcibly repatriating people from other countries in the same region from their countries.
“Historically, the people of EAC are one regardless of their colonial boundaries…therefore, integration should be felt from the grassroots through allowing free movement of people and services,” she said
The statement comes in the wake of Burundi and Tanzania deporting illegal immigrants from countries that make the East African Community.
Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, the minister for Home Affairs, Mr Emmanuel Nchimbi, said the operation was conducted in the country with the aim of ensuring people were living in Tanzania legally.
He said the last operation of that kind was carried out eight years ago. He further added that since it was aimed at repatriating illegal immigrants from Asia, Europe and outside East Africa, people from the region were also affected by the exercise.
“It’s imperative to remember that while the integration is an important element in EAC, member states are still guided by their national immigration laws,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the permanent secretary, in the ministry of State, President’s Office – East African Affairs, Mr Jean Rigi, has said people entering other member state countries before the integration process is finalised should adhere to laws of the said countries.
He said that while people of Burundi were also affected by the exercise, it would be remiss to forget that Tanzania has been giving citizenship to the EA people who have lived in the country for decades.
Source: The Citizen