Mauritius rejects AFRINIC’s demands for diplomatic immunity

Press Release: October 27, 2023

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Mauritius rejects AFRINIC’s demands for diplomatic immunity
Suspended CEO of AFRINIC, Eddy Kayihura – and four other CEO’s of Regional Internet Registries – accused of undermining global internet governance
(Port Louis, Mauritius, 05 October 2022) The Government of the Republic of Mauritius has rejected demands by the African Regional Internet Registry (AFRINIC) to claim diplomatic and legal immunity in an attempt to evade legal proceedings currently taking place in the courts of Mauritius.
 
Correspondence released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mauritius shows that AFRINIC falsely claimed they should be eligible for diplomatic immunity by claiming to be linked to the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations. In a letter to the former CEO of AFRINIC Eddy Kayihura, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs firmly rejected the multiple requests for personal and institutional immunity.
 
Freedom of Information disclosures show that the former CEO of AFRINIC, Eddy Kayihura had secretly requested diplomatic immunity to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March 2022. This request was subsequently followed up by a letter from other CEOs of Regional Internet Registries in July 2022 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Mr Alan Ganoo and the Attorney General The Honourable Maneesh Gobin.  
 
Whistle-blowers provided evidence of AFRINIC’s attempts to hide from scrutiny to legal accountability to the Nigeria based, Number Resource Society who made in the information available in the public interest.  Papers show that AFRINIC and other RIR’s attempted to hide their pleas for immunity as a request to be recognised as an international organisation status goes against the very principles of global internet governance to remain independent from all governments and international bodies such as the United Nations. 
 
Mr Kayihura and ARFINIC are subject to forty-nine cases in the Mauritian courts which has charged that Mr Kayihura is in Contempt of Court at least three times.   The Supreme Court of Mauritius ruled that the cases against AFRINIC are proportional and AFRINIC and Kayihura have a case to answer.   
 
Four CEOs of Regional Internet Registries accused of undermining global internet governance
 
Documents obtained by Number Resource Society showed how the suspended CEO of AFRINIC and other CEOS of Regional Internet Registries Paul Wilson (Director General of Asia Pacific Network Information Centre),  John Curran (President and Chief Executive Officer of  American Registry for Internet Numbers), Oscar Robles (Executive Director of Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry) and Hans Petter Hollen, (Managing Director of Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre) had threaten the government of Mauritius with relocating their operations to another jurisdiction unless their demands for diplomatic immunity were met. 
 
Commenting on the revelations, Erick Renson of Number Resource Society said: “The Government of Mauritius has done the right thing in blocking Eddy Kayihura and AFRINIC’s attempts to claim diplomatic immunity. Mr Kayihura and AFRINIC will be held accountable for their wrong-doing in the courts of Mauritius. The secret attempt by AFRINIC and other CEOs of regional internet registers to interfere in the rule of law and democratic principles of Mauritius was shameful. Those CEOs should now resign.”
 
Independent members of AFRINIC reacted strongly against this attempt to blackmail, arguing that Mauritius was the right place for AFRINIC to be located because the country and government upheld democratic principles and the rule of law. The request is a direct contradiction of the multi-stakeholder model that the global internet community has strived to defend since its founding. It is considered a dangerous move that could result in the destruction of internet coordination and independence as we know today.
 
Mr Renson added “members of AFRINIC reacted with anger when evidence of AFRINIC and their former CEO attempts to evade justice were published. Despite ongoing attacks against  Number Resource Society we will not be silenced and we will continue to expose the unlawful  and immoral activity of AFRINIC and other RIRs.”
 
Independence of African internet governance in crisis
 
The actions of disgraced former CEO Eddy Kayihura has placed a further cloud over the already damaged reputation of AFRINIC and endangers the entire RIR system. Mr Kayihura has been exposed as a close contact of a terrorist sympathiser, muffled the voices of resource members through limiting freedom of speech on community mailing lists, changed by-laws without undergoing the appropriate due process and now he is asking an inter-governmental body to interfere in an RIR election.
 
Court documents obtained by the Number Resource Society, show that the former CEO of AFRINIC, Eddy Kayihura, colluded with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to appoint Directors to AFRINIC to the head of the African Regional Internet Registry in an attempt to bypass the free and fair election procedures provided for in the organization’s governance.  The suspended Eddy Kayihura, whose tenure concludes at the beginning of November 2022 decided to sue AFRINIC asking the Supreme Court of Mauritius to appoint the candidates of the ATU to the leadership of AFRINIC, on the grounds that the Regional Internet Registry is unable to form a quorum.  The revelations sparked outrage globally that internet governance, traditionally governed by a bottom-up member lead approach, was being turned over to government control by the very organisation tasked with protecting the rights of internet users.
 
Earlier this year, Number Resource Society were leaked evidence that Eddy Kayihura, a Rwandan national, unlawfully put forward candidates to the board of AFRINIC including one individual, Lucky Lavender Waindi, who has been accused with other co-accused of having conspired with the intention to defraud a construction company in Kenya, by writing a false investigation report.  The seven accused were formally charged by a Kenyan judge and released last March on payment of bail.  The appointment – otherwise irregular – of such an individual at the head of the African RIR poses a serious threat to the Internet and Internet users on the continent.
 
Mr Kayihura, who spoke at an ICANN meeting in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia in September 2022, stated he was a champion of a “multi-stake holder model” when in fact he was secretly pleading to become a specialised agency of United Nations, and was attempting to bypass democracy in AFRINIC by attempting to appoint directors via the Africa Telecommunications Agency – an intergovernmental organisation. 
 
Mr Kayihura has been reported to law enforcement agencies in Mauritius and the United States of America for failing to report websites containing illegal content, including child pornography. Evidence has been submitted of Mr Kayihura and others at AFRINIC in failing to provide details of websites containing child pornography to a member of AFRNIC, resulting in the member being unable to take action by closing the illegal websites down. 
 
AFRINIC had applied to the government of Mauritius under the International Organisations and Conferences (Privileges and Immunities) Act meaning they were claiming to be a specialised agency of the United Nations. AFRINIC is registered as a private business in Mauritius. 
 
Eddy Kayihura’s tenure as CEO concludes on 5th November 2022.  AFRINIC has no board, meaning that a contract extension of the suspended CEO, or appointment of a new CEO, would be illegal.

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