Legal Assistance Centre

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Activities are mainly centered around litigation, the rationale being that once the current litigation files are at a manageable level, the way in which Huricon “does business” will be restructured to obtain maximum impact from limited resources.

The funding situation in Huricon remains dire with a small donation being received from Namibia Breweries for a research paper and the International Commission of Jurists still funding a few cases. Obviously, the personnel situation in Huricon (or lack thereof) is not conducive to regular consultancy work in an attempt to bridge the funding gap, neither is the opportunity there to spend large amounts of time sourcing funding due to the time-limits involved in litigious work which must be respected.

Huricon assisted with screening new clients and giving advice and referrals when appropriate. Clients are screened personally and by telephone.

In addition, queries by mail are received on a daily basis and are almost exclusively dealt with by the Huricon co-ordinator. This service is a small attempt to provide some free advice to indigent clients and at least steer them in the right direction even if the matter does not fall within the Legal Assistance Centre’s mandate or cannot be taken on due to lack of funding. The situation is far from ideal, however, since in many cases the clients can arguably not take their issues further without some form of assistance.

The co-ordinator is the trustee of the Hoofbeats Trust, Archillen Gawanab Trust and Maria Geelbooi Trust. These trusts are for the benefit of previously disadvantaged children and it is hoped that the resources will assist these children to prepare themselves adequately before entering the job market. During 2006 the trusts were administered according to the needs of the children and the various requirements in terms of inland revenue and the Master of the High Court were addressed.

The co-ordinator resigned as the Secretary to the Professional Arbitration and Mediation Association of Namibia (PAMAN) due to increased responsibilities at the Legal Assistance Centre, but remains a member of the Executive Committee. One of the objectives of PAMAN is to promote socio-economic development in Namibia.

In January 2006, both the co-ordinator and senior legal practitioner attended the strategic planning workshop facilitated by a member of the Gender, Research & Advocacy Project. The workshop was found to be extremely helpful.

Two articles were published in the Namibian newspaper early in 2006, one relating to the rights of foreigners married to Namibian citizens and another discussing the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools. Both articles elicited some interest with queries still being fielded regarding citizenship rights some 12 months later. The article on corporal punishment alerted parents to the rights of their children and resulted in a further two clients being assisted in this regard. A number of letters were also written to the press following this article and calling for the re-instatement of corporal punishment which indicates that the Namibian public is still in need of human rights sensitization.

In February 2006, the co-ordinator researched and compiled a document on the duties of trustees for the benefit of staff and also attended a session on funding.

During March 2006 both members of Huricon spent a week at the Ongwediva office in order to facilitate the re-opening of such office and to consult with clients in the north of Namibia. Furthermore, the co-ordinator was part of an internal team tasked with the establishment of a revised appraisal process. In addition, a meeting with a representative from the Kenyan section of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation took place. This Foundation has taken upon itself the task of strengthening the rule of law in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In April 2006, the co-ordinator was invited by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation’s Tupopyeni program, to speak on the topic of the rights of foreigners married to Namibian citizens. An official from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration was also present, who admitted on the program that foreigners married to Namibians can apply for a domicile certificate and do not need any other form of permit to live and work in Namibia. He also confirmed that applicants for citizenship by marriage do not have to renounce their existing citizenship. This was very helpful in that especially the latter has been a contentious issue with the staff of the Ministry for some considerable time.

During May 2006, the co-ordinator attended the European Community function celebrating Europe Day on behalf of the Director of the Legal Assistance Centre. Furthermore, a one day workshop on corruption hosted by the Namibia Institute for Democracy was attended. The workshop was extremely informative and emphasized that most if not all people have practiced some form of corruption at some time in their lives and how this adds to a nation being desensitized to instances of corruption.

In June 2006, the co-ordinator was requested to draft a short research paper on new liquor legislation, specifically relating to the shebeen issue, by the Namibian Breweries. The paper referred to the constitutionality or not of certain provisions and also suggested a list of recommendations, some of which it would appear have been taken up by government.

In July 2006, the co-ordinator attended a training session on the Financial Intelligence Bill organized by the Law Society of Namibia. Thereafter, a short introduction on the services of PAMAN was also presented.

The co-ordinator attended a workshop on the “right to health” during the last week of August 2006. The workshop was organized by the International Commission of Jurists and Huricon was asked to present a paper on the situation in Namibia as to whether this right is respected in Namibia.

A week in October 2006 was spent attending a workshop on the Rule of Law organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and held in Mombasa, Kenya. This workshop was well-attended by stakeholders from the region which included judges, members of parliament, advocates and human rights lawyers. A basis for a regional network was established at this workshop. The co-ordinator also took part in the Anti-Poverty prayer meeting during the same month.

During November 2006, the co-ordinator attended a half day conference organized by the Law Society of Namibia under the theme “Integrity of the law/legal profession – reality or myth in our time?” The annual general meeting followed directly thereafter at which time the co-ordinator was voted in as a member of the Council of the Law Society. Huricon views this as an important platform to make legal practitioners aware of human rights issues and encourage them to take action against abuses.

Finally, it is apparent that despite the difficult circumstances it found itself in, Huricon was able to continue to make an impact for the individual client and for the broader Namibian community. It is contended that every client assisted forms part of the human rights and democracy building that the Legal Assistance Centre promotes and hopes to achieve. Huricon continues to be convinced of the necessity of its services and hopes to be able to continue to offer these services to the community in the future as well as strategizing to maximize the impact of its work.