Our Immanuel Tomas consulting with the parents of Mukwasha Smit, who was shot dead by NDF members in Bwabwata National Park in 2016.
Over the past two years, SJP has received numerous complaints of brutality and torture by police, NDF and City Police officers from members of the public. The complaints all have different circumstances, but it is common knowledge that most of these complaint were reported during the time that the Namibian Police have been involved in joint operations with the NDF and City Police to combat crime. So far, SJP has received requests for assistance for two fatalities during the joint operations. Most of the cases are before the High Court for litigation and some are still in the infancy stages. SJP hopes to bring about reform in the way that the law enforcement agencies are enforcing the laws to bring it in line with the Constitution. SJP currently has over 30 active cases of police brutality.
Holding Cells Visit
During 2019 SJP received funding from UNFVT to visit police holding cells to assess the conditions therein. The team visited police holding cells in three regions and generally found the conditions therein satisfactory. However, in one particular region SJP received concerns of grave human rights violations and police brutality. SJP has already successfully litigated on one of the cases of police brutality, which ended up in a settlement in favour of the victim. There are still about six (6) complaints of police brutality and torture that the SJP is currently working on.
Caprivi Treason Trial
In 2013 HURICON continued its work on the Caprivi treason civil matters. In 1999 over 200 men were arrested in the Caprivi region for allegedly taking part in secessionists activities. There were reports of torture and illegal detention contrary to the Constitution. With funding from the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture HURICON took on about 127 cases on behalf of the victims. Three of the matters went to the High Court for trial and judgment was given in favour of the victims. One matter proceeded to the Supreme Court and was decided in favour of the victim. On that basis the majority of the matters were settled out of court and victims we paid compensation for the violation of their constitutional rights. The last batch of thirteen cases were settled out of court to the victims’ satisfaction, five cases were voluntarily withdrawn, four cases were withdrawn by the executors following the death of the deceased. The Caprivi treason matters are all finalised. As a result of LAC’s work in the Caprivi matters the Supreme Court held that access to legal representation must be provided in certain cases, although not necessarily through Legal Aid.
In general, legal advice is dispensed on a daily basis to walk-in clients. The majority of these matters concern issues that do not fall under the LAC’s constitutional and human rights mandate, but in such cases, every effort is made to refer the client to an organisation or government ministry that can assist, or alternatively, advice is given to empower the clients to deal with the issues themselves.