Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

A UN working group has expressed ‘widespread concern about the general human rights situation in Namibia’, including the government’s ‘non-compliance with several core international human rights norms’, NAMRIGHTS reports.

28 February 2011

The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)[1] of the 48-Member UN Human Rights Council (HRC)[2] has expressed widespread concern about the general human rights situation in Namibia. This includes the Government of Namibia (GoN)’s non-compliance with several core international human rights norms, UN documents indicate.

The above is the outcome of the UPR process, also known as the interactive dialog, which took place on January 31 2011 during the 10th Session of the said Group. The Session was held in Genevabetween January 24 2011 and February 4 2011.

The UPR is a unique process involving a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The process provides the opportunity for each UN Member State to declare what administrative, legislative, judicial and other measures it has taken to improve the human rights situations on its territory in compliance with its mandatory human rights obligations. Hence, the UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground, with the ultimate goal of improving the human rights situation in every UN Member State.

During the interactive dialog on Namibia, altogether 48 UN Member States scrutinized the general human rights situation in the country, with the result that a total of 120 shortcomings have been identified, which GoN needs to rectify during the next four years.

Out of the 120 recommendations, GoN must provide concrete answers to 27 concerns no later than the 17th Session of the HRC slated for June 2011.

In 19 cases of the 27 recommendations, the aforesaid Group concentrated on GoN’s failure to ratify four UN-sponsored core international human rights treaties, viz: the Convention on Enforced Disappearances (CED), the Convention on Migrant Workers (CMW), the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OP-CAT) and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR). In four other cases, the Working Group urged GoN to extend an open and standing invitation to the HRC’sSpecial Procedures[3], while three additional concerns had regard toNamibia’s non-compliance with international human rights norms relating to labor, communication and minority rights.

Three of the 120 UN concerns, dealing with sexual minority rights, have been rejected by GoN.

The 120 recommendations are contained in the 22-page Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review[4], also known as the Draft Outcome Report, published on February 3 2011. The report is informed by three documents: (1) a Summary of Stakeholders’ Report prepared by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[5], (2) a Compilation independently prepared by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[6], (3) the National Report submitted by the Namibia’s Ministry of Justice[7].

Human rights issues---such as violence and discrimination against women, gross income disparities and inequalities, human trafficking, backlog of court cases, police brutality, the right to a fair and speedy trial, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, discrimination against indigenous minorities, attacks on the press freedoms as well as the rights of sexual minorities---dominated the interactive dialog on Namibia.

Each UN Member State has the primary responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in the final outcome, while the UPR ensures that all countries are held accountable for progress or failure in implementing such recommendations. In a subsequent review process, States are under the obligation to provide information on the corrective measures they have taken to implement the recommendations made during a previous review process.

During the present review, GoN stressed that it would continue in its endeavors to remove obstacles to the full realization of human rights by all Namibians, with the exception of the rights of sexual minorities. However, GoN stated that its principal priorities “at this time” were food security, education and health, which purportedly take much ofNamibia’s budget. Saying Namibia had “only recently reached independence”, GoN pleaded with the international community to “show understanding” for the shortcomings.

In case of additional information, please call, e-mail or text: Steven Mvula or Phil ya Nangoloh at Tel: +264 61 253 447, +264 61 236 183 or +264 811 406 888 (office hours) or Mobiles: +264 811 299 886 (Phil) and or +264 812 912 948 (Steven) or E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected] or visit us at: Liberty Center, 116 John Meinert Street, Windhoek-West, Windhoek or visit us at:


* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.