Defining the Scope of Free Movement of Citizens in the East African Community: The East African Court of Justice and Its Interpretative Approach
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 72
18 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 8, 2016
Free movement of persons is one of the core tenets of the East African Community (EAC) common market, making it seem like a purely economic project. Moreover the EAC aims at ultimately constituting itself into a political federation. As such, this article argues that the free movement of persons within the EAC should be interpreted in broad terms with the aim of asserting it as a fundamental right of EAC citizens. Such an interpretation should be championed by the East African Court of Justice, whose mandate is the interpretation and application of Community law. Yet, the court seems to prefer a narrowly textual and cautious interpretative approach that may not necessarily advance the broader objectives of the EAC. A human rights- oriented interpretative approach just might be the key in realizing a progressive transformation in the rationalization of the right to free movement within the EAC.
Keywords: Free movement of persons, East African Community, fundamental rights, textual-formalism, regional integration
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