Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 06:22 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Namibia

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 22 December 2005
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Namibia, 22 December 2005, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The Namibian government has faced allegations of human rights violations and unlawful arrest in the trial of 12 alleged Caprivi separatists charged with treason. At the start of the trial in September 2005, the state had to prove whether the court had the right to prosecute 11 of the accused, who claim to have been unlawfully arrested.

The 12 are the second group of alleged secessionists facing charges of high treason after disturbances in eastern Caprivi in 1998–9, which the government alleges were attempts to secede the barren, semi-arid region.

The first group of 120 Caprivians is currently appearing before the High Court in Grootfontein, 430 km north of Windhoek, in a case that began in October 2003. They allegedly belonged to the Caprivi Liberation Army, which attacked government installations in a raid on the regional capital, Katima Mulilo, leaving 12 people dead in August 1999.

Ten of the second group of 12 claim they had been bona fide refugees in the Dukwe refugee camp in central Botswana until they were 'forcibly and unlawfully arrested' and handed over to the Namibian police. The accused claim that they crossed into Botswana illegally between 1998 and 2001 to escape from 'persistent harassment' by members of the Namibian police and defence force. They were arrested between September 2002 and December 2003 by Botswana authorities and handed over to the Namibian police.

In affidavits the 10 claim that 'the apprehension and abduction from Botswana, the transportation to Namibia and the subsequent arrest and detention in Namibia is in breach of international law, and wrongful and unlawful'. The authorities argue that the suspects were deported from Botswana after violating their asylum conditions and the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees by returning to Namibia.


San are the earliest inhabitants of what is now Namibia. The Namibian government has been accused by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) of systematically ignoring the deteriorating situation of the San minority over the past 15 years. On 31 August 2005 the country's former social services minister and new Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertine Amathila said she was 'shocked to discover' that the San communities were living under virtual slavery conditions. Further, in an attempt to 'refute' criticism that it had taken the government 15 years to realize that San peoples are grossly marginalized, Dr Amathila, in a nationally televised report on 27 September 2005, maintained that 'The Opposition parties are actually the ones responsible for this situation. The South Africans, they were fighting with, are the ones who destroyed the San communities, in the first place.'

The NSHR has called upon the Namibian government to make reparations to the San peoples, including a public apology; guaranteed protection of San human rights in the future; restoration, rehabilitation and compensation in the form of free and adequate health care; free and adequate pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary education; free and adequate housing; immediate access to social services, such as pensions for senior citizens and persons with disabilities; immediate recognition of all San traditional authorities and their right to profess and enjoy their traditions; and immediate and full recognition of all San human rights.

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