Probono 86 – 30 Years of Gender research and advocacy
Having passed the retirement age for the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Dianne Hubbard, will be ending my 30-year stint as the coordinator of the Gender Research & Advocacy Project (GR&AP) at the end of February. This makes it a fitting time to look back at some of the accomplishments of the gender project over the last three decades.
Probono 85 – What did Parliament do in 2022?
January is always a good time to reflect on the past year. What laws were passed by Parliament in 2022? Here is an overview. Parliament passed 16 statutes in 2022, with only three of these introducing new laws. The remainder were amendments or repeals of existing laws. Here a full review with links.
Probono 84 – Administrative bodies that govern communal land use: Are they all working towards the same goals?
When it comes to communal land people are often perplexed as to the relative powers, functions and duties of the various, seemingly competing, statutorily bodies that play a role in communal land administration, occupation and use. However, all of these bodies have a common objective that can be attained by harmonious co-operation between them. Read our article on this.
Probono 83 – Sustainable Forest Management & Responsible Logging
Members of a community forest have the legal responsibility to manage and utilize natural resources sustainably and for the benefit of the community. But persistent illegal harvesting of timber undermines sustainable management, causing resource shortages and serious community conflicts.
Probono 82 – Are compulsory Pro Bono requirements for lawyers constitutional?
The Minister of Justice recently announced that the Ministry is considering amendments to the Legal Practitioners Act that would require legal practitioners (attorneys and advocates) to provide a minimum of 120 hours of pro bono (free) work each year for clients with limited means.
Probono 81 – Universal Basic Income Grant – Social Justice for all
A life of dignity is the cornerstone of our Constitutional democracy. All Namibians strive to live such a life, but many are unable to do so because of poverty and inequality. Poverty in turn leads to crime, gender-based violence and suicide – all of which have ripple effects throughout society.
Probono 80 – Expungement of Criminal Records
When applying for a job or a visa to work or study abroad, a person may have to submit a Certificate of Conduct (also known as a police clearance certificate) to show that they have no criminal history. This certificate is issued by the Namibian Police after checking the individual’s criminal record, using fingerprints as a means of identification. It will disclose any past criminal convictions contained in records going back to shortly before the date of independence
Probono 79 – The Etosha case: Who can bring ancestral land rights claims?
The case of Jan Tsumib v Government of the Republic of Namibia, recently decided by Namibia’s Supreme Court, has rejected attempts to remove a barrier to advancing ancestral land rights claims in Namibia.
Probono 78 – The mission of the Legal Assistance Centre: What it can and cannot do
Recently, some posts on social media have complained that the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) is not taking on some of the issues brought to it by members of the public. To clarify the situation, we will explain the LAC’s mission, and what it can and cannot do.
Probono 77 – The Media, Informed Opinion and Free, Prior and Informed Consent
Media reports on oil exploration activities in Namibia are encountered almost daily. But we have to ask if these media reports are giving the public the full story.
Probono 76 – A Sex Offender Register for Namibia? Right idea – Wrong solution!
A sex offender register is a list of persons who have committed certain criminal offences, often with information about their current place of residence and employment. We discuss and offer some recommendations.
Probono 75 – The Divorce Bill: What is good and what is not
The LAC welcomes the Divorce Bill and describe the changes it will bring and the faults that still need to be addressed.
Probono 74 –What is Namibia doing about Urban Land Reform?
Here we take a look at urban land rights in Namibia and the importance of making them work.
Probono 73 – The Land Bill: What is it all about and is it needed?
This column gives a brief overview of the September 2020 version of the Land Bill and considers its intended outcome.
Probono 72 – Covid Vaccines for Children and the Law of Consent
Vaccinations against COVID-19 are now available for children from the age of 12. But who must consent to being vaccinated – the child, or the child’s parent or guardian? The answer can be found in the Child Care and Protection Act 3 of 2015 and in this Probono article.
Probono 71 – Sexual Orientation and the Digashu Case
On 20 January 2022, a three-judge bench of the High Court issued an opinion in the Digashu case which concerns the recognition by Namibia of same-sex marriages concluded in other countries for purposes of Namibia’s immigration law. Here is a simplified explanation of the case.
Probono 70 – The rule of Law and the Danger of taking the Law into Your own Hands
The principles of the rule of law were established under the Magna Carta in 1215.
Two provisions under the Magna Carta that have stood the test of time are clauses 39 and 40. These stipulate that “No free man shall be seized, imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, exiled or ruined in any way, nor in any way proceeded against, except by the lawful judgement of his peers and the law of the land” and “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.” Read on….
Probono 69 – Natural Capital and Sustainable Development
“Natural capital accounting” is a term sometimes used in describing the value of the environmental inventory for a society. It explores the relationships between the economy, human development and the environment.
Probono 68– Public Interest Litigation
Public interest litigation is court action that seeks to secure human and constitutional rights, particularly where the rights violations affect socio-economically disadvantaged or marginalised individuals or groups.
Probono 67 – Hate Speech: The South African Qwelane case and why it is relevant for Namibia
“Speech is powerful – it has the ability to build, promote and nurture, but it can also denigrate, humiliate and destroy. Hate speech is one of the most devastating modes of subverting the dignity and self-worth of human beings.”
Probono 66 – Free, Prior and Informed Consent: What is it and how does it apply to the protection of Namibia’s indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and natural resources?
The ongoing challenges around the oil exploration has prompted us to take a closer look at a related issue: the free, prior and informed consent principle, and how it relates to the protection of Namibia’s indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and natural resources.
Probono 65 – Safeguarding Children’s Rights
Namibia’s key law on children, the Child Care and Protection Act 3 of 2015, is intended to safeguard children’s rights against abuse, neglect or other hardships. It provides clear procedures to make sure that children get the protection and assistance they need.
Yet the legal protections for our children are not always applied as robustly as they should be. More…
Probono 64 – The infamous “Red Line” Why does Namibia have a veterinary cordon fence?
Beef exports play an important role in the Namibian agricultural economy and stringent disease control measures are crucial in sustaining Namibia’s beef exporting industry. Read more about the origin and importance of the Red Line.
Probono 63 – Are vaccine mandates constitutional?
Debates about Covid-19 vaccination have been raging around the nation, despite clear statements from both the Namibian Government and the World Health Organisation that the vaccines in use in Namibia are generally safe and effective, with serious side effects being very rare – and that the risks of Covid-19 far outweigh the risks of having the vaccine. Read our Probono and longer article on this topic.
Probono 62 – The Ombudsman and Children in Detention
The Ombudsman has long crusaded for the rights of Namibian children in detention, carrying out several investigations and producing reports setting out concerns in this regard over the years.
Probono 61 – The Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution Bill
The Bill supports the restitution of land rights to persons or communities that have lost their land rights as a result of past discriminatory laws or practices. Given Namibia’s shared political and legal history with South Africa, we also consider what Namibia could learn from the South African land rights restitution experience. Here follows an overview of the Bill.
Probono 60 – Parental Deception hurts the Child
Recently, The Namibian ran an article about men being “deceived into fatherhood”. We should indeed be concerned about women who deceive men, but equally concerned about men who try to evade their duties as fathers – and we should be concerned most of all about the children who are affected by the deceptive actions of their parents.
Probon0 59 – Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution
The restitution of ancestral land rights in Namibia has since independence divided opinions. Some argue that it is a fitting process in dealing with colonial era land dispossessions, while others are concerned about the complexity of implementing this kind of restitution.
Probono 58 – Combating of Immoral Practices Act
The Combating of Immoral Practices Act 21 of 1980 is a law that is much misunderstood. Many have called for it to be repealed, wrongly believing that it criminalises homosexuality in some way. But this is not the case.
Probono 57 – CCPA – Environmental Assessments
Article 95(l) of Namibian Constitution is the focal point for the protection of Namibia’s environment. It declares that the Government will take steps to maintain Namibia’s ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity. It also says that the Government will try to make sure that all of the nation’s living natural resources are used on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future generations. Read more in our ProBono.
Probono 56 – CCPA – Child Marriage
Child marriage has been in the news recently. It is worrying problem.
Probono 55 – CCPA – Harmful practices
Are initiation customs such as sikenge and olufuko harmful to the girls who take part in them? Press reports on these rituals quote positive and negative perceptions from different participants. Read more in our ProBono.
Probono 54 – What is international law and why does is matter to Namibia?
International law is a set of rules, norms and standards generally accepted in relations between countries. It creates common legal obligations to guide countries on cross-border issues such as war, diplomacy, trade, the environment and human rights. In general, the purpose of international law is to help countries to follow stable, consistent and organized international relations.
Probono 53 – Witchcraft
A young woman in Windhoek was recently murdered, reportedly by a man who accused her of witchcraft. Last year, it was reported in the press that a woman in the Kunene Region was shackled and isolated in a hut for years because her family believed that she was a witch – when in fact she was actually suffering from dementia, which typically involves confusion and forgetfulness. Law on witchcraft.
Probono 52 – Climate Change
Climate change, or global warming, refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on earth. While it is mainly caused by humans burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air, it is also evident that as per National Geographic magazine that the “Fracking boom (is) tied to (the) methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere“. Read more
Probono 51 – Domestic Violence and same-sex partners
The current Combating of Domestic Violence Act is about to be amended. Currently, that Act protects people in “domestic relationships” as defined in the Act. One form of domestic relationship is couples who are cohabiting or in dating relationships – but the Act protects such relationships only between people “of different sexes”. Thus, same-sex couples are excluded from any protection under this law.
Probono 50 – Oil exploration in Kavango
It has recently been reported in the media that Reconnaissance Energy Africa, a Canadian mining and exploration company, plans to prospect for oil and gas in the north-eastern regions of Namibia bordering Botswana. In view of this announcement, this article aims to give a brief overview of the applicable legislative framework that regulates mining activities in or near environmentally sensitive and protected areas. More from Recon here and more on our page.
Probono 49 – Victims Rights: Information
The victim of a housebreaking goes to court on five different occasions to testify. No one notifies her of the verdict or the sentence when the case is over. She telephones the magistrate’s court to find out what happened in the case only to be told that the information is confidential. She learns of the case outcome only after reminding an administrative official on the phone that Article 12 of the Namibian Constitution requires that judgments in criminal cases must be given in public, which means that the case outcome cannot be secret. Read more…
Probono 48 – The Wildlife and Protected Areas Management Bill
The Wildlife and Protected Areas Management Bill has been under discussion for over 20 years. This proposed new law would introduce new approaches to nature conservation consistent with Article 95(l) of the Namibian Constitution, which promotes the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity and the utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians.
Probono 47 – Criminal Convictions as a Disqualification for Public Office
The right to participate in peaceful political activity, including the right to be elected, is enshrined in the Namibian Constitution, as well as several international charters to which Namibia is party.
Probono 46 – The role of Traditional Authorities in promoting sustainable use of Namibia’s natural resources
Customary law has since Pre-colonial times played a central role in the protection of Namibia’s environment and communally shared natural resources. At independence, the Namibian Constitution through Article 95(l) placed a duty on the government to develop an appropriate legal framework to protect the environment and to promote the sustainable utilisation of the nation’s natural resources. Namibia’s current legal framework on Traditional Authorities and communal land user rights outlines the responsibilities of Traditional Authorities in achieving these goals.
Probono 45 – Cabinet confidentiality
ProBono 44 – Ancestral land rights
Many of Namibia’s indigenous communities lost their ancestral lands during the colonial and apartheid times. Yet the topic of ancestral land claims has been an uneasy political debate since Namibia gained its independence in 1990. Also in The Namibian and this Blog by Willem Odendaal.
ProBono 43 – Admission of guilt fines
ProBono 42 – Environmental laws
ProBono 41 – The powers and duties of the Law Society
ProBono 40 – Illegal Fencing and the law
ProBono 39 – Use of Force by Police Officials
ProBono 38 – Presidential Debates
ProBono 37 – New laws in 2019…the fewest since independence
ProBono 36 – Election Day: Making sure that you can vote
ProBono 35 – Election Day: What to do if you witness an irregularity
ProBono 34 – Election Day: Persons and procedures
Probono 33 – Preventative Detention
Probono 32 – Child Abuse
Probono 31 – Paper Trails at the Elections
Probono 30 – Proving Citizenship for voting
Probono 29 – Problem Animals
Probono 28 – Sodomy
ProBono 27 – Independent Candidates
ProBono 23 May 2019 – Rule of Law 6 – Proper Procedures
ProBono 9 May 2019 – Rule of Law 5 – Knowing the law
ProBono 25 April 2019 – Rule of Law 4 – Presidential Immunity – Is the President of Namibia above the law?
ProBono 11 April 2019 – Rule of Law 3 – The Legislature and the Judiciary: Who has the final say
ProBono 28 March 2019 – Rule of Law 2 – The Executive and the Legislature: Dormant Laws and the Balance of Power
ProBono 14 March 2019 – Rule of Law 1 – Why it matters
ProBono 26 – Sterilization and Consent
ProBono 25 – Paternity disputes
ProBono 24 – Surrogacy
ProBono 23 – Women and Communal Land
ProBono 22 – Land Expropriation
ProBono 21 – Access to justice: Who can bring a case to court
ProBono 20 – Preventing convicted offenders from working with children
ProBono 19 – Pro Bono
ProBono 18 – Marriage Officers
ProBono 17 – Rhino Horn Trading
ProBono 16 – Father’s consent to Adoption
ProBono 15 – Intestate Inheritance
ProBono 14 – Wills
ProBono 13 – Children’s Right to claim Maintenance
ProBono 12 – Prescription
ProBono 11 – Marital Property
ProBono 10 – Penalties for poaching
ProBono 9 – Corporal Punishment in Private Schools
ProBono 8 – Abortion after Rape
ProBono 7 – Police Searches
ProBono 6 – Learner Pregnancy: Management
ProBono 5 – Learner Pregnancy: Prevention
ProBono 4 – Rape and Disability
ProBono 3 – Public Demonstrations
ProBono 2 – Compensation for Crimes
ProBono 1 – Pro Bono Legal Practitioners