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East African Court Okays Kenya’s Defence in Maize and Poultry Import Ban Case

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The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has upheld the Kenyan government’s defence in a case brought by lawyer Male Mabirizi challenging the ban on maize and poultry products from Uganda. Mabirizi filed the case in March 2021, contesting directives issued by the Agriculture and Food Authority of Kenya based on concerns about mycotoxins and aflatoxins in the products.

Mabirizi sought to strike out the Kenyan defence, arguing it was filed late. He claimed he was served after the 45-day timeline required by law, starting on March 12, 2021, and expiring on April 25, 2021. The Kenyan government attributed the delay to COVID-19 restrictions, including office closures for fumigation and subsequent changes to a rotational work basis.

The EACJ dismissed Mabirizi’s application, validating the Kenyan government’s response. The court stated that the delay was excusable, emphasizing that serving the petitioner late did not constitute inordinate delay. The Kenyan government defended its ban on maize and poultry products, citing the protection of local farmers recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and prevention of toxic waste dumping.

Kenya argued that Uganda’s tariff measures made its poultry products uncompetitive, hindering access to the Ugandan market while allowing the dumping of poultry into Kenya. The evidence presented highlighted Uganda’s imposition of taxes, including value-added tax (VAT) and withholding tax on poultry meat, contributing to market challenges for Kenyan products.

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