News and Information

NSHR lists top human rights abusers
August 4, 2004

PRESIDENT Sam Nujoma, the ruling Swapo Party and the Police's Special Field Force (SFF) unit accounted for most human rights abuses in the last 12 months, a local watchdog said in a report released yesterday.

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) released a 163-page 'Namibia Human Rights Report 2004', which chronicles a myriad of persecutions directed by Nujoma and other State agents against perceived political opponents.

Extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearance, abuse of power, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention, attacks on the judiciary and racial discrimination, are but some of the problems which escalated between July 31 2003 and July 31 this year.

"Factual incidents and allegations, as well as situations of human rights violations, reached new levels of frequency and profundity [during the period under review]" NSHR Executive Director Phil ya Nangoloh said.

"Emitted by high-ranking officials, hate expressions was clearly manifest in the numerous verbal and sometimes physical attacks on real or perceived Government and Swapo critics."

At the receiving end of these persecutions, according to the NSHR, were the private media, NGOs, High Court judges, opposition leaders, minority sexual groups, refugees, churches and alleged "supporters of Europeans".

The organisation said that of the 34 total incidents of racial discrimination recorded the Head of State accounted for 10, other senior Government officials also 10, while Swapo and its affiliated unions were jointly held responsible for 11 incidents.

The report also documents seven incidents of torture and other inhuman treatments with the SFF and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) cited as the main perpetrators.

The NSHR accused Government of having been behind the assassination of Kwanyama border activist, Bernard Nekale Shevanyenga, who was gunned down at Oshikuku village in October.

"We believe that the TAGOMA (The Age of March) leader [Shevanyenga] was executed by State security agents," Ya Nangoloh charged.

The NSHR bemoaned what it termed a dramatic deterioration of the general human rights situation in Namibia over the past year, which it says resulted in grave socio-economic afflictions and rising temperature of political intolerance.

"Spiralling deterioration in the economic and social rights had led to severe social ills such as poverty, ignorance, diseases, homelessness, joblessness and rampant crime which threaten to become a humanitarian disaster," Ya Nangoloh cautioned.

He said that the situation was exacerbated by unsustainable handling of State resources, corruption and a culture of patronage and subservience which afflicts the Namibian society under the Swapo leadership.

With the current state of affairs, the NSHR report said, Namibia will not achieve the United Nations millennium development goals, "let alone the much talked about Vision 2030".

The NSHR, among others, strongly recommended the introduction of systematic teaching of the Constitution as well as educational programmes on human rights principles.

The human rights watchdog also urged the Government to clarify its "present fast-track land reform process and should by all means avoid the catastrophic Zimbabwe-style" seizure of white-owned commercial land.


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