May 30, 2002

Human Rights

Namibia’s human rights reputation has taken another battering in the latest report from the world's leading campaigner for civil liberties. Amnesty International, in its report for 2001 released on Tuesday, May 28, cites violations on the border with Angola, delays in the trial of Caprivi detainees, and threats to freedom of expression and gays and lesbians. The critical report on Namibia comes amid an increase in human rights violations committed in the name of national security across the world following the attacks in the United States on September 11 last year. Botswana and Seychelles were the only Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries not listed in the annual report.

Amnesty expresses its concerns about the prolonged detention of 128 detainees accused of plotting the secession of Caprivi from Namibia. In a statement that is bound to anger the Namibian Government, Amnesty states: "At least 70 [of the detainees] appeared to be prisoners of conscience." The report refers to the torture of detainees following the 1999 separatist attack by the Police, pointing out that "investigations by the Government into allegations that most had been tortured failed to lead to any prosecutions in 2001." The reported added: "As a result, several Police officers named in torture allegations remained on active duty. Approached for comment, Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Mocks Shivute said it would be "premature" to comment on a report which has not yet been launched in Namibia. (THE NAMIBIAN)

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