Fight for donkey heads to court

Brooke donkeys
Brooke donkeys

The fight for the preservation of Kenya’s donkey population into the foreseeable future is going on in the courts. Three cases were filed early this year to determine whether the government’s ban on donkey slaughter should be lifted or upheld.

The saga goes back to February 24, 2020, when the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives, Peter Munya, banned donkey slaughter. Legal Notice 63, published in the Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 50 on April 20, 2020 communicated this position.

In exercise of the power conferred to him under the Meat Control (Export Slaughterhouse) Regulations, the CS revoked the declaration of four export slaughterhouses involved in donkey slaughter, effective March 31, 2020.

Owners of donkeys in the country fully support the ban by the CS.

On their part, the affected slaughterhouses filed cases in court to oppose the ban on donkey slaughter and revocation of licenses.

One of the cases, filed on March 12, 2020 in the High Court, is set for hearing on December 7, 2020. In it, the complainants argue that they were not consulted when the ban decision was made. Further, they say they were given a short notice of one month to change their slaughterhouses and that the decision would cause them losses from the disruption of business. They want the ban lifted.

The Government has responded to the case.

Yet another case against the ban was filed at the Judicial Review Division of the High Court in Naivasha. The case is coming up for mention on September 16, 2020, to confirm that the Attorney General has filed all the necessary documents. The judge is expected to set a ruling date for this case, on that day.

Jim Karani, the lawyer representing the Alliance of Donkey Owners in Kenya in the Naivasha case, says his clients seek to be enjoined in the other two cases filed in the High Court in Milimani, Nairobi.

On behalf of the association, the lawyer argues in documents filed in court that half of the country’s donkey population has been slaughtered. Sustaining the slaughter of these animals will wipe out the remaining population, argues the association.

Mr Karani says donkey owners fear that continued slaughter will increase demand for the animals. This will lead to the theft of donkeys from homes.

Kenyans keep donkeys as work animals and not as a source of meat.