By Melvin Tejan Mansaray

One of the factors hindering free movement is that most of the time, citizens of the Community area are ignorant of their rights and duties in the area of free movement, the Delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Guinea told the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, recommending that more sensitization be done towards this end.

This observation was noted in Guinea’s Country Report to the First Ordinary Session of the Community Parliament, 2021, holding in Abuja Nigeria.

Presenting the report during the plenary sitting of the Community Parliament, Honorable Alpha Souleymane Bah, Leader of Delegation on behalf of five other Members told the West African Legislative Assembly that: “One of the factors hindering free movement is that most of the time, citizens of the Community area are ignorant of their rights and duties in the area of free movement. Added to this is the non-harmonization of administrative and travel documents.”

Hon. Bah was speaking on the issue of the status of the implementation of the ECOWAS Texts, item number 2, “Protocol on the Free Movement of People and Goods.”

Hon. Bah recalled in the report that in 1975 in Dakar, ECOWAS member states embarked on the difficult but irreversible path through the adoption of a Protocol on the Free Movement of People and Goods. Despite these efforts by the highest national and community authorities, the free movement of people is struggling to be fully effective, the report stated.

“Even more serious, the right of entry, until then considered to be the most effective of the rights constituting the free movement of people, is constantly challenged by illegal practices (harassment and racketeering at borders and within States). One of the factors hindering free movement is that most of the time, citizens of the Community area are ignorant of their rights and duties in the area of free movement. Added to this is the non-harmonization of administrative and travel documents,” Hon. Bah read.

The Guinean Delegation however recommended that to remedy the issue of ignorance of the Protocol on the Movement of People and Goods, the Guinean government has made a strong commitment to supporting the effective implementation of this protocol to which it has freely subscribed.

“Sensitization for all stakeholders is necessary for this context,” the report recommends. 

The Guinean Delegation however highlighted that, “In its action plan, consultations with the various actors are underway, in particular transporters, socio-professional groups, young people, migrants, security forces, agents of immigration services, social organizations and civil society to discuss ways to overcome the difficulties on the various corridors.”

In addition, it should be noted that this issue of free movement of people and their goods has been experiencing some difficulties for several months with certain states in the community, the report says.

“You will recall that our country was forced to close three (3) of its land borders with neighbors against its will; To date, two of them still remain closed, while the one with the Republic of Sierra Leone has been reopened following discussions which have led, among other things, to the establishment of a mixed patrol along the borders. The same procedures continue with the two other brother countries,” the Delegation said in its report.

The twelve-page report also shed light on Guinea’s political, security, human rights, and health situations, capturing the condition of refugees in the Region and the status of implementation of the Community Texts (Ratification of Protocols and Conventions, Implementation of the Community Levy and the Supplementary Act on Equality of Rights between Women and Men for Sustainable Development in the ECOWAS Region).

The report concludes with a message of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 expressing that: “We should recall that the conduct of each of us goes beyond our own person and can have an impact on the whole of society. Let us, therefore, respect the restriction measures set out by the health authorities.”

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