By Andante Okanya
Court has stopped the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) from issuing export licenses for pangolin scales until March 9, when the case comes up on schedule.
The registrar of the civil division of the High Court in Kampala 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 licenses.
Nsenga agreed to temporarily stop UWA, noting that the Green Watch's query is based on urgency, and that at this stage, court cannot delve into 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 involving questions of law or fact, in applications for injunctions in general," 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.
Kasule and Atukunda 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 Sabilla Chemonges and 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 this year, Greenwatch sued UWA over purported illegal trade in endangered wild life.
According to documents contained in the main case, 7,310 kilogrammes (about seven tonnes) of pangolin scales, valued at $4.2m (sh11b), were sold to Smico Skin Craft Industries Limited.
Last year on July 4, the company owned by a one Smith Ewa Maku, was granted licence to export the scales. However, the license expired this year on January 22.
On the black market, a kilogramme of pangolin scales is worth $600 (sh1.6m) on the They are a most sought-after item used for making medicines and bangles.
The biggest market in Asia is found in China. Occasionally, they are used as a substitute for ivory.
Speaking to New Vision shortly after the ruling had been delivered, Kalule described the ruling as fair. She however stated that when court reconvenes on March 9, she would seek an extention of the order.
Chemonges said UWA was looking forward to the next court session. Maku was at court with his lawyers Richard Kabazi and Anthony Kaweesi.
He lamented that "Green Watch is trying to stop UWA from fulfilling its statutory mandate" of conservation and protection of wildlife for sustainable use.
On February 23, Maku petitioned court, asserting that his economic rights are under threat, because he is not included as a party to the court case.
He contends that his exclusion could adversely affect his business. Court is on March 9, scheduled to hear the application seeking to have Maku joined as a co-defendant with UWA.
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Court stops UWA from issuing pangolin export license