Wednesday March 4 2015

Court stops UWA from issuing pangolin licences

Uganda Wildlife Authority law enforcement

Uganda Wildlife Authority law enforcement officers together with police officers examine pangolin scales that were impounded on Friday at Entebbe Airport. Police said the smugglers had five boxes of the scales worth Shs2 billion. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Juliet Kigongo

Kampala. Court has stopped the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) from issuing export licences for pangolin scales until March 9, when the case comes up for hearing.
The registrar of the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala, Mr Festo Nsenga, issued the order on the prompting of the environmental lobby group, Green Watch.
Green Watch filed an application for interim order of injunction, seeking to restrain UWA from issuance of export licences.
Mr Nsenga agreed to temporarily stop UWA, noting that Green Watch’s query is based on urgency, and that at this stage, court cannot probe the technicalities of the case.
“Interim order applications are premised on urgency and court cannot thus have the luxury of indulging in technical questions of law. In fact, courts are generally discouraged from indulging in questions of law or fact, in applications for injunctions in general,” Mr Nsenga stated.
He agreed with submissions of Green Watch’s lawyers Sumaya Kasule and Samantha Atukunda that there is a pending application for temporary injunction and the main suit scheduled for April 20.
The lawyers submitted that the application for temporary injunction and main suit would be rendered impractical, if the application for interim order of injunction was declined.
But UWA lawyers Mr Sabilla Chemonges and Mr Ali Luzinda submitted that UWA is executing its legal mandate and that there is no danger to the animals since the issuance of licenses is done carefully to mitigate any danger.
On January 23, Greenwatch sued UWA over purported illegal trade in endangered wildlife.
Court is on March 9 scheduled to hear the application seeking to have Maku join as a co-defendant.

About the scales

• According to documents contained in the main case, 7,310 kilogrammes of pangolin scales valued at Shs11 billion, were sold to Smico Skin Craft Industries Limited.
• On July 4, 2014, a company owned by a one Smith Ewa Maku, was granted a licence to export the scales. However, the license expired on January 22.
• Court documents indicate that a kilogramme of scales which can only be obtained from one adult or two young pangolins is worth Shs1,704,000 and has a very attractive market in China and other Asian countries.

jkigongo@ug.nationmdia.com

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