Updated: Aug 16
Dear Global RIR Communities,
It has come to our attention that NRO has released a letter to the Mauritius Government on 12 July, 2022. The signatories to this letter are Paul Wilson, John Curran, Oscar Robles, Hansa Petter Hollen who wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade and Attorney General of the Republic of Mauritius.
NRS is a collective body representing the interest of its members by improving the transparency and accountability of the RIR system and strengthening the principle of the bottom-up approach on which the Internet was found.
We are writing to the global RIR community to outline our very serious concerns about the content and intention of the letter. It makes very serious, unfounded claims and crosses the boundry by attempting to interfere in the internal political, diplomatic and legal matters of a soverign state.
While the NRS embraces the importance of RIRs for the Internet, we must also acknowledge the RIRs' status as private companies. This fact means they are bound to relevant regulations in their respective countries and the Rule of Law.
It is of grave concern that the Number Resource Organisation have attempted to place pressure on the government of Mauritius to influence the independence of Mauritius' justice system. Their attempt to place political pressure by threatening to relocate AFRINIC from Mauritius is a disgraceful attempt to interfere in the domestic political environment and must be rejected.
In this respect, we found the following claims made by the NRO extremely alarming:
"It is our understanding that AFRINIC has repeatedly asked for recognition from Mauritius of it as an international organization. We understand this is both appropriate for AFRINIC to obtain this status, and that if granted, it might lead to more appropriate outcomes which would recognise the critical position AFRINIC plays in the Internet ecosystem, while also ensuring AFRINIC continues to remain accountable and subject to Mauritian laws. Providing AFRINIC this status is consistent with the rule of law and leaves the courts to provide any reasonable check on AFRINIC. We collectively urge you to consider addressing this issue as rapidly as possible, or to take such other actions that may help to preserve and protect the independence of AFRINIC and the stability of the Internet in Africa. We appreciate your consideration of any such steps."
Specifically, we have highlighted to the Government of Mauritius:
1) An attempt of sub-judice and contempt of court by perverting the court of justice.
As stated in the NRO's letter, several cases are filed against AFRINIC by its members. The issuance of NRO's statement is an absolute sign of arrogance and ignorance. It is as if the NRO is saying that all the decisions made by the esteemed judges in Mauritius so far are wrong and that the court orders are, in fact, damaging and harmful to the Internet development ecosystem in the African continent. NRO's requests directly interfere with the Mauritian Company Act and Judicial System. It is an attempt of sub-judice and contempt of court by perverting the court of justice.
Furthermore, all information related to court cases shall be confidential. Hence, it is extremely alarming that legal files were read by NRO per their statement:
"the legal files are now replete with expert affidavits speaking of unlawful behavior on the part of the litigant." This level of interfering with the judicial system is intolerable.
2) An attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Mauritius as a country.
Mauritius is a country founded on the principle of democracy and the rule of law. The act of asking the Mauritian government to interfere with the judiciary process undermines not only the rule of law, but also the sovereignty and democracy of the country as an independent state.
We need to remember that the NRO is neither a state nor a government. It is not even a registered legal entity; hence such a request is exceptionally outrageous, improper, and shameful to the entire RIR Community by assuming the NRO is a state-like body when in fact, it is not.
The request is ridiculous as any international lawyer will tell you. The Vienna Convention does not provide for a private company, or officers of a private company to have diplomatic immunity.
3) An attempt to place AFRINIC beyond the scope of the law by granting it diplomatic status
AFRINIC, as a registered private company in Mauritius, shall follow the regulations and the rule of law in Mauritius. Accordingly, the matter of AFRINIC shall be left to be judged by the capable hands of the Mauritian judicial system. As stated above, this judicial process should not be interfered with by any external party.
NRO's attempt to place AFRINIC beyond the law by giving it diplomatic status as an "international organization" is unjustified. It will be impossible to explain why such a status is granted to AFRINIC while it is just one of the numerous private companies in Mauritius.
None of the five RIRs have such status in their respective states, and for a good reason. They are considered law-abiding private companies, nothing more and nothing less. The fact that the NRO is trying to ask an entire nation to give one of its most corrupted members (AFRINIC) diplomatic immunity is appalling. We believe that the global community needs to take this matter seriously.
4) An attempt to break the bottom-up process upon which the RIR system was founded.
It is worthwhile to point out that the lawsuits against AFRINIC were made by its own members. Hence, NRO's act:
a) Turned a blind eye to the requests made by resource members to protect a corrupt leader within AFRINIC; and
b) Forfeited AFRINIC members' rights to reconstitute AFRINIC into a functioning body;
Such an act of the NRO hugely undermines the bottom-up principle on which the RIR system was built. Furthermore, the NRO issued a letter as a state-like body while failing to consult the opinion of its members and communities.
Accordingly, there is ZERO representation of the community members' interest in the NRO's issued letter. The decision to post the letter without consulting the community is a quintessential example of a top-down approach. Instead of strengthening the RIR's central bottom-up principle, it was disappointing to see that the NRO is violating the
RIR's very foundation.
NRO's letter is nothing but a desperate attempt to defend a discredited CEO at the cost of eschewing its own principles that have been religiously followed by previous leaders and pioneers in this industry.
NRO is profoundly wrong by attempting to place pressure on the Government of Mauritius.
Rather than attacking Mauritius, the suspended CEO Eddy Kayihura of AFRINIC, should be asking other Regional Internet Registries to be thanking Mauritius for hosting AFRINIC rather than threatening and interfering in your country's independence.
We call for attention from our global communities to assess the gravity of the situation. We ask the global RIR community to join the members of The Number Resources Society call on Paul Wilson, John Curran, Oscar Robles, Hansa Petter Hollen, and Number Resource Organization to withdraw the letter and apologize to the government and people of Mauritius for their actions. They wouldn't dare do it in their home country so why do these individuals think they have a right to attempt to interfere in the legal and democratic principles that govern Mauritius?
We believe that the community, the Mauritian judicial system, and the Mauritian government will make the correct and necessary steps for the future of the Internet.
In the interest of the global Internet community, NRS has also sent a letter to Mauritius government, you can view it at https://www.nrs.help/post/nrs-letter-to-mauritius-goverment