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Government Given Ultimatum to File Defense in e-Passport Case

The East African Court Of in Arusha has given Government of Uganda, through the Attorney General and the Secretary General of East African Community 45 days to file their defense in the case in which three concerned citizens challenge the process of introduction of the new East African Community electronic  passports without considering a number of factors.

“You are hereby required to file a response within 45days from the day of service hereof. In default whereof, the reference will be heard and determined in your absence,” the regional court registrar ordered.

This case was filed on 14th December 2018 to the East African Court by Tumuhimbise Norman, Mukose Arnold and Youth Live Forum through their lawyer Eron Kiiza.

The Attorney General has since acknowledged receiving a copy of the court order on Wednesday 19th December 2018.

The applicants want this court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the government and all its Authorities from further implementing the use of the new passports until a clear legal foundation for the East African community (EAC) Electronic passports has been put in place in Uganda with a fair payment reached after engaging the citizens.

They also want a declaration that the failure of the East African Community to pass or set uniform standard fees to be charged by partner states is inconsistency with principles of accountability, transparency and democracy as enshrined in Articles 6(d), 7(d) and 8(c) of the EAC charter.

The petitioners further argue that the decision by a government requiring all nationals living both within and abroad to replace their current passports within a short period without any sensitization or consultation from them regardless of validity period of their Ugandan passports is inconsistent with principles of human rights and rule of law

Ugandans seeking to acquire or upgrade to the new e-passports will be charged Shs. 250,000, up from Shs. 150,000.

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The petitioners termed this amount as unfair to Ugandans especially to those who had just acquired the old passports.

Currently Burundi and Kenya have started issuing out the e-passports and Uganda will commence on January 15th 2018 after cabinet approval.

The digital EAC passport is being rolled out across the region in fulfilment of the 1997 directive from the precursor of the EAC Secretariat to create a regional travel document.

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