The lawsuits against AFRINIC by one of its Resource Members has piled up in the past months. This has become a matter of serious concern not just to the African regional community but it caused ripples in the global Internet community.
There are five Regional Internet Registries (RIR) in the world tasked with the responsibility to manage and allocate Internet number resources in specific parts of the world. The RIRs are:
Recently, AFRINIC has faced a number of lawsuits filed in the Supreme Court of Mauritius by an entity called Cloud Innovation Ltd. The latter has its registered address in Seychelles. The lawsuits are aimed at disrupting AFRINIC's operations and thus putting at risk critical functions of the organisation.
Several Resource Members have supported AFRINIC and are continuing to do so. The latest has been the other RIRs joining hands and supporting AFRINIC through the Number Resource Organisation (NRO).
The NRO is a coordinating body for the five Regional Internet Registries. It formalises the cooperative efforts of the RIRs.
In their support towards AFRINIC, the Number Resource Organisation has addressed a letter to the Government of Mauritius, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Alan Ganoo, and the Attorney General, Hon. Manish Gobin. The letter is signed by the heads of the four Regional Internet Registries (APNIC, ARIN, LACNIC and RIPE NCC).
The letter explains the role and functions of the Regional Internet Registries. It mentions the lawsuits by Cloud Innovation Ltd and how those are disrupting AFRINIC operations. I quote from letter:
It is not uncommon for a wealthy plaintiff to act in this vexatious manner. Unfortunately, it appears to us that this litigant has abused this legal process to frustrate and attempt to cause irreparable harm to the core functions of AFRINIC. For example, at least twice the courts have issued ex parte orders on behalf of this foreign domiciled litigant, whose main business is maintained outside of Africa. Those orders have severely and negatively impacted AFRINIC. The first such order froze AFRINIC’s bank accounts for an extended period of time; and while that ex parte order was lifted by the Mauritian courts once AFRINIC was able to make its case, it took nearly three months for such relief to be granted which understandably caused undue strain on the AFRINIC organization and posed a threat to the Internet ecosystem in Africa. More recently, another ex parte order was entered stopping the annual election of Directors from across Africa at AFRINIC’s Annual General Members Meeting. While we acknowledge and respect the right of complainants to seek such orders, and the Mauritian Courts to grant them, the issuance of these types of ex parte Orders have hampered the provision of a vital service necessary for Mauritius and Africa. It has placed in unnecessary and serious jeopardy the normal and routine work of Internet administration.
The NRO also urges the Mauritian government to accede to AFRINIC's request to be regarded as an international organisation. The NRO believes that this status will help with more favourable outcomes in the court cases and further strengthen AFRINIC's position as a critical one in the Internet ecosystem.
Another interesting remark is that the NRO casts doubt on whether designating Mauritius as the location for AFRINIC was wrong.
The letter is published on the NRO website and a PDF version is also available.