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Published: Jun 23, 2014 - 11:51 AM
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As a Namibian NGO in consultative status in the UN Economic and Social Council (“ECOSOC”), NamRights wholeheartedly welcomes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Namibia. 

NamRights uses Secretary General Ban’s visit to inform him about the numerous political, social and economic problems (most of them man made) which have been plaguing Namibia since independence on March 21 1990 and which threaten, not only the country’s national cohesion, but also its fragile peace and security, viz:

1.         The biggest problem is real or perceived lack of political will on the part of Namibia’s ruling elite to accommodate and include all the sectors of society in the formulation and implementation of public policies and programs. Being a one dominant party country, Namibia is, for all intents and purposes, also a de facto one-party state. Compounding this state of affairs is the fact that Namibia’s political parties are organized along racial (i.e. ethnic or tribal) lines and the fact that one racial group is numerically more than 50 percent of the population complicates matters even further. A virtual one-party state means that inter alia national laws are hardly debated in Parliament and national development programs are more often than not imposed without appropriate consultation with proclaimed beneficiaries. This state of affairs gives effect to corruption and to (both de facto and de jure) impunity on the part of those wielding political power.

2.           The second biggest problem is government being the largest employer and  therefore also the largest income provider. There is deep-rooted fear (which is, however, slowly receding) on the part of the general population not to be seen to be criticizing (and therefore being “against”) the government and or the ruling party. In any event, critical voices are not tolerated and are often punitively sanctioned. Since March 3 2009 several phone-in and other public discussion programs on Government-controlled Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (“NBC”) radio and TV have either been discontinued and or have been rendered “harmless”. There is also widespread self-censorship on the part of Namibia’ media whether “government controlled” or “independent”. These and other factors undermine the right of individual Namibians to have receive accurate and or sufficient information in order to make informed decisions.

3.           The third largest problem is reluctance on the part of the ruling elite to implement the provisions of the Namibian Constitution and or subordinate legislation. Although Namibia has a democratic and a strongly anti-discrimination constitution, which entrenches a Bill of Human Rights wholly consistent with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Namibian Constitution is hardly respected. Also, although Parliament has adopted several progressive laws including those on combating of corruption, rape and domestic violence as well as human trafficking, to mention but a few, these laws are hardly implemented as evidenced by widespread corruption, domestic violence (including gender-based violence) and rape in Namibia.

4.           The fourth biggest problem is Namibia’s negative attitude towards various UN-sponsored international human rights treaties to which the country is, nevertheless, party. Government has largely failed to timely submit periodic reports under the various UN conventional mechanisms on human rights. Most of those reports have remained overdue while those that have been submitted have often resulted in critical evaluation by UN treaty monitoring bodies!  As an example, specific reference should be had to the latest report by the Committee on the Right of the Child (“CRC”) released in 2012. Reports by UN extra-conventional mechanisms are often equally critical of Namibia’s human rights record. Specific regard should be had about the recent reports on Namibia which have been authored during 2012 by UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty as well as the outcome report of UN’s Universal Periodic Review of 2011.

 NamRights is also disturbed by Namibia’s conduct at the UN, where the country’s voting record shows that Namibia has often voted on the same side as some of the worst human rights violators, such as North Korea, and other tyrannical regimes worldwide.

5.           The fifth largest problem lies in the area of the administration of justice. Namibia’s administration of justice is chronically marred by severe shortage of judicial officers and corruption and these have resulted in inter alia overcrowded detention cells and prisons, prolonged detention without trial and or frequent postponement of criminal court cases which in turn have often resulted in many of the criminal suspects being held for up to 10 years without trial as well as a huge back log of court cases!

 However, the single-most grave violation of the administration of justice is the marathon Caprivi High Treason Trial (“CHTT”) which has been running since 1999. At least 22 “high treason” suspects have so far died under mysterious circumstances while in Police custody. Virtually all the initially more than 137 Caprivi treason trialists have been brutally tortured. Government has so far rejected repeated NamRights calls to bring the torturers to justice in accordance with international standards!

6.           The sixth biggest problem threatening peace is Namibia’s unlawful occupation of Caprivi Strip (which  de jure  remains a British colony), in grave contravention of relevant provisions in UN Charter and International Covenants on Human Rights as well as various UN General Assembly declarations and resolutions on the right of all peoples to self-determination. However, NamRights holds the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“Britain”) principally responsible for the current status of Caprivi Strip and calls upon Secretary General Ban to remind Britain of its responsibility under the UN Charter over Caprivi Strip!

7.           The seventh biggest problem is reluctance and or outright refusal by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany (“Germany”), assisted by the government of Namibia, to pay reparations for the 1904-1908 genocide by Germany troops of thousands of Namibia’s ethnic Hereroes and Namas.

8.           The eighth debacle is failure by the United Nations Transition Group (“UNTAG”) to ensure effective demobilization and reintegration of all former combatants on both sides of the 23-year old armed conflict. While the government of Namibia has done and or is making good progress regarding payouts for most of those war veterans who fought on the side of SWAPO, Namibia has so far refused to accord war veteran status to those ex-combatants who fought on the side of apartheid South Africa during the struggle for Namibian independence. Moreover, the government of Namibia continues to treat especially black ex-SWATF and ex-Koevoet soldiers with extreme hostility to date.

9.           The last but not the least problem threatening Namibia’s national cohesion as well as peace and stability, is the government refusal to account for the disappearance of thousands of persons who went missing on both sides during armed conflicts prior to Namibian independence and thereafter.

 In light of the abovementioned serious socio-economic and political threats, NamRights urges Secretary General Ban to use his good offices with the President Lucas Hifikepunye Pohamba and his Cabinet with view of ensuring that above burning issues have obtained long lasting solutions.

 In case of additional enquiries, please call Phil ya Nangoloh or Petrus Festus at: 0811 406 888 (office) or 0811 299 886 (Phil ya Nangoloh)
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