News and Information

May 20, 2015

Published: May 20, 2015 - 12:35 PM
This article received 1179 reads.
Print this article
Share this article

At least two Namibian media houses this morning quoted German Ambassador to Namibia, Dr. Onno Hückmann, as saying the country has “very few reported incidents of torture or maltreatment of suspects, and in those cases, culprits are prosecuted accordingly” as well as that Namibia has an “excellent standard and the positive example set by Namibia for the region”.
“Assuming that Ambassador Hückmann was cited accurately, NamRights wishes to put it on record that it totally rejects his sweeping, insensitive, controvertible and morally offensive utterances.

Although torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (“TCIDT”) by public officials has reduced since Namibian independence, treatment falling under TCIDT continues on a wide scale throughout the country. It must also be pointed out that systematic failure by the State to promptly and impartially investigate and prosecute those public officials responsible for acts of TCIDT, and for failing to institute disciplinary proceedings against public officials held responsible for direct acts of TCIDT and or complicity therein continues”, said NamRights executive director, Phil ya Nangoloh, this morning.

Moreover, the unsavory public pronouncements attributed to Ambassador Hückmann are not supported by facts. Not a single report produced by UN or by any other credible national and international human rights instance on TCIDT in Namibia has so far come anywhere closer to describing Namibia as an “excellent standard for the region”.

Having acceded to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) on November 28 1994, Namibia is among the over 150 UN Member States that have ratified or acceded to CAT. By ratifying or acceding to CAT, a country voluntarily undertakes to institute legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures to give effect to the provisions of CAT. The country's Constitution--containing an impressive bill of rights entirely compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--unambiguously bans all and any acts of TCIDT.

However, the Government of Namibia (“GoN”) has continuously failed to adopt legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures to give effect to the provisions of CAT, as Namibia’s legal and administrative instruments to prevent, investigate, and punish acts of TCIDT remain ineffective if at all existent.

Specifically, GoN has so far failed to make the requisite declaration, in terms of Article 22 of CAT, that it recognizes the competence of the monitoring UN Committee against Torture to receive and consider petitions from Namibian residents claiming to be victims of TCIDT.

Furthermore, GoN has also failed to comply with at least nine (9) mandatory recommendations made by UN Committee against Torture (also known as “CAT”) during its May 1997 session. This includes GoN failure to create centers for the physiological and psychological rehabilitation of victims of TCIDT.

In addition, GoN has not yet become a State Party to the Optional Protocol to CAT (“OPCAT”) of December 18 2002. The objective of OPCAT is to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places of detention, with the intention to prevent TCIDT.

Numerous incidents and situations of TCIDT most of them dating back to the pre-independence era continued to affect thousands of Namibians 25 years after independence on March 21 1990. Such incidents and situations include the fact that:

1. Thousands of Namibians that were systematically subjected to TCIDT by the security and other forces fighting for or against Namibia's right to self-determination remain unaccounted for. Both apartheid South African forces and SWAPO troops are equally responsible for these disappearances.

2. GoN remains violently opposed to the NamRights-led campaign for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) to probe past acts TCIDT committed by both sides.

3. Thousands of citizens and other residents continue to be held under deplorable overcrowded conditions in both Police cells and correctional institutions in Namibia. Hundreds of people have been held under prolonged detention without charge, let alone trial, while some 65 alleged Caprivi high treason trialists (“CHTT”), most of them political prisoners, remain in custody almost 16 years, in effect, without trial. More than 20 of the CHTT prisoners have since died, some of them under mysterious circumstances, while in Police custody.

4. GoN has so far refused or failed with impunity to investigate, prosecute or punish more than 40 Police, Army and Intelligence agents accused of having perpetrated systematic and widespread TCIDT in the Kavango and Caprivi Regions between 1994 and 2003.

5. On a yearly basis, NamRights handles on average 200 complaints of TCIDT acts allegedly meted out to persons deprived of personal liberty and or who are held in both Police holding cells and prisons countrywide. Some prison inmates complained, among other things, that they were denied adequate food or that food from family members was confiscated, while others said they were held incommunicado as no visits or telephone calls were allowed from their relatives or loved ones. Still others complained about suffering from various untreated injuries sustained during arrests and other violent encounters with law enforcement agents. Many complained of being denied medical treatment despite sustaining various injuries or suffering from various communicable and or non-communicable diseases, such as TB, malaria and HIV-AIDS.

Ironically, Dr. Hückmann reportedly made those remarks yesterday at the launch of project aimed at combating TCIDT in Namibia. The program is funded by the German Embassy and NamRights welcomes such efforts.

NamRights welcomes the truthful remarks reportedly made at the launch by Namibian Police Inspector General, Lt-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, who admitted inter alia that Caprivi Strip detainees have been subjected to widespread TCIDT.

In case of additional comment, please call Phil ya Nangoloh at Tel: (+264 61) 236 183) or Mobile: +264 811 406 888 (office hours) or +264 811 299 886 (Phil) or E-mail:

Source: Namright

    Support Caprivi Freedom
Fill out the form below to become a member of this site and receive our regular newsletter.

First Name
Last Name