May 9th, 2022: A Mombasa Court has this morning ordered the Kenyan Wildlife Service to procure the necessary documents and permits to enable 646 tonnes of Malagasy rosewood to be shipped to the Hong Kong based consignee, Shihua Industry Alliance Co. Ltd.
KWS and other agencies in May 2014, had seized 34 containers of rosewood that had been illegally shipped from Madagascar via Zanzibar. In the seven years that the matter has been before the Kenyan courts, the lower court and appeal court both ruled in favour of the Chinese consignee, calling the KWS seizure illegal.
Today, the Honourable L.L. Naikuni of the Mombasa Environment and Land Court, in response to a notice of motion made this past January by advocates of Shihua Industry Alliance, and while reiterating that the consignment had been illegally impounded, ordered KWS to procure the necessary documents and paperwork so as to ship the rosewood out of Mombasa Port were it is presently stored. The court also ruled that failure to comply with its order would cause a personal order of incarceration for the Director General of KWS for contempt of court.
Required documents as referred to by the court would include a CITES export permit. CITES, in a Notification to Parties dated January 20th, 2022, declared that the shipment in question was, in fact, illegal. While KWS is the representative of CITES in Kenya, it remains to be seen how a Kenyan court can order CITES, through KWS, to produce an export permit on a 646 tonne shipment that CITES has declared as illegal.
Justice Naikuni initially gave KWS three days to comply, however, extended it to five days after KWS advocates requested a seven day extension. KWS intends to appeal the ruling.
The court will visit Mombasa Port on May 20th to verify the contents of the containers, now believed to be 22 in total, after Shihua requested they be moved from the original 34 x 20 foot containers into 40 foot containers.