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Wednesday,October 21,2020 12:56 PM

NGO sued over copy infringement, bribery

By Betty Amamukirori

Added 30th September 2016 10:15 AM

ASARECA is also accused of bribing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014

NGO sued over copy infringement, bribery

ASARECA is also accused of bribing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014

An International non-government organization, Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research defendants in East and Central Africa (ASARECA) has been dragged to court for infringing on the copyright of a biologist and fraudulently procuring diplomatic status.

According to Clet Wandui Masiga, former employee of the organization said that it published two of his literary works worth over sh30b without seeking for his consent.

He said that he has exclusive rights over 'improving livestock productivity through enhanced breeding programs: African Goat Improvement Network' and 'capacity development for sustainable plant genetic resources, utilization and conservation in Eastern Africa', which were registered in 2014.

"The defendant (NGO)  has without the consent of the plaintiff (Masiga) and without any colour of right have wrongfully infringed on the said copyright by wrongfully reproducing the said work, pirating it and setting up projects based on and under the style of the said literary works  in various parts of Uganda" he said.

Masiga pointed out that the implementations have majorly been done in the districts of Hoima and Nakapiripirit while the planning and coordination is done at Entebbe.

He accused ASARECA of bribing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014 to award it diplomatic status, submitting falsified documents to government departments and dishonestly flouting government procedures. The case is also against Dr Francis Wachira who is ASARECA's executive secretary.

"Since they obtained the diplomatic status to date, the defendants have flagrantly abused the immunities that go with it and have adamantly breached the instruments and other laws including the taxation, immigration and labour laws," reads part of his suit.

He stated that his rights were violated when he was illegally laid off and his position given to a non-Ugandan staff.

Masiga, a consultant and researcher of Conservation Biology and Genetics, said that since its establishment in 1994, ASARECA has evaded paying taxes for its foreign staff to a tune of sh1.26b and that only Ugandan staff pay taxes.

ASARECA operates in 11 countries; Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan, DR Congo, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Eritrea and Uganda.

"The defendant as an organization is not clothed with any immunity whatsoever, only a few individuals in the organization enjoy some measure of immunity which was gained fraudulently and is being grossly abused," he stated through his lawyers from Wettaka Advocates.

He stated that though ASARECA claims immunity from prosecution, it is not absolute and is purely contractual and well spelt out in the Headquarters agreement between it and Uganda.

He wants court to declare that ASARECA fraudulently obtained the immunity, misused it and violated the instruments by which they were accorded diplomatic status. The suit was first filed in Nakawa magistrate's court on July 7, 2015, but was later transferred to the Commercial Court.

In their response to Commercial Court on August 29, 2016, the organization stated that the suit is incompetent because of its diplomatic immunity from the legal process.

It stated that pursuant to the Headquarters Agreement signed on December 6, 2011, which granted it and its officials, who are non-Ugandans, immunity from all legal processes.

"Given the provisions of article 11 of the Headquarters Agreement read together with Article 22(3) of the schedule to the Diplomatic Privileges Act and the Diplomatic Privileges Regulations, 2014, it is crystal clear that the defendant and its officials who are non-Ugandans are clothed with diplomatic immunity from every form of legal process," reads part of the defence.

ASARECA stated that it enjoys a charter immunity that is absolute which is derived from constitutive instruments of the organization in question and any other domestic law or regulation specifically extending immunity to the organization.

Court has set October 27, to rule on whether ASARECA should be stripped of the immunity and tried or the immunity be maintained and the case trashed.

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