Namibia unveils human rights plan

2014-12-09 21:03

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Windhoek - Namibia’s ombudsman on Tuesday announced the country’s first human rights action plan for implementation over five years.

"In order to mark the upcoming 25th independence anniversary of Namibia next March we should show a stronger desire to entrench human rights principles more effectively," Ombudsman John Walters said at the launch in Windhoek.

"No country has a perfect human rights record, including Namibia; we acknowledge that we face a number of imperfections, gaps or challenges, but to address them we need a national plan to address the human rights concerns of all Namibians," Walters added.

Development of the plan started in 2009 to fulfil the programme adopted at the world conference of human rights in Vienna, Austria, in 1993, which culminated in the Vienna Declaration.

According to the declaration, states should identify ways to improve protection and promotion of human rights.

The action plan sets annual targets from 2015 to 2019 and focuses on vulnerable groups like orphans, the poor, people with disabilities, and marginalised communities like the San.

The plan makes detailed recommendations for law changes and law reforms under the various sectors.

Speaking at the launch President Hifikepunye Pohamba noted that Namibian people had suffered under German colonial rule (1884-1915) and apartheid until independence in 1990.

"The architects of the despicable apartheid policy in South Africa extended that racial policy to Namibia to ensure white minority settlers' domination, while relegating the majority Africans to a life of hardship and poverty, and at the same time, subjected them to untold atrocities," he said.

Land reform

Colonisers came from Europe to Africa, "but today they make as if they are the champions of human rights".

"Our people today feel discriminated because they don’t own land," Pohamba said, deviating from his prepared speech.

"Today the children of those who colonised us and took away the land sit on the land and are reluctant to give land... as we talk about human rights let us also talk about land," Pohamba said.

Namibia has a land reform initiative in place since 1995. The government buys commercial farms from landowners for resettlement if they are willing to sell. An annual land tax for commercial farms was introduced several years ago, which the government uses to buy the farms.

Government has to date acquired over two million hectares of land through the willing buyer willing seller principle for N$900 in total and resettled some 5 000 people.

Until 2020, the government plans to acquire another 2.5m hectares by buying 417 000ha of farmland annually.

Namibia has a population of 2.1m people and an unemployment rate of 29.6%.

Read more on:    hifikepunye pohamba  |  namibia  |  southern africa

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