Unpacking Namibia’s UPR review over the years

07 May 2021 | Events

Digital rights at the UN

Fighting for world press freedom

On Tuesday, 27 April, the Internet Society Namibia Chapter (ISOC) hosted their Universal Periodic Review Public awareness event ahead of Namibia’s review by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This review took place on 3 May.

During the 38th session review hosted by the chapter, ISOC touched on key issues such as freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of information, the right to equal access and opportunity and the right to privacy.

During a survey done in January 2021, a total of 1.3 million internet users have been recorded in the country, which makes up approximately 51% of the total population.

During the event, one of the issues highlighted was that despite Namibia’s high position in press freedom rankings, journalists still face continuous political pressure and employers continue to restrict work in the public’s interest.

Namibia also scored 29% on the WRO based on assessment of internet access and women’s empowerment; relevance of content and services; online safety; affordability; and digital skills and education.

Infographic wording:

total number of internet users (any device): 1.3 million

Internet users as a percentage of the total population: 51%

Annual change in the number of internet users: +1.8% (24 000)

Proxy for mobile internet use share of social media users accessing via mobile devices: 98.2%

Proposed recommendations made by the chapter:

Nashilongo Gervasius represented the following recommendations on the 38th session of the universal periodic review.

· Repeal the Protection of Information Act no. 84 of 1982 in light of the Access to Information Bill.

· Amend Part 6 of the Communications Act by repealing section 9 and criminalising unauthorised interceptions and surveillance of citizens.

· Amend the Namibia Central Intelligence Services Act 10, 1997 by repealing section 4 which blanketly prohibits persons from accessing information on grounds of “national security”.

· Enact cybercrime, data protection and privacy legislation in compliance with Article 21 of the Constitution and international human rights standards and obligations.

· Amend Article 21 of the Namibian Constitution restrictions on undefined grounds of “decency or morality” “defamation” or “incitement of violence”

· Operationalise the UASF and National Broadband Policy (2020) to promote affordable, equal and equitable access to the internet &related technologies among women & underserved communities.


Highlights of submissions

Part of the programme, Linda Baumannn, strategic coordinator of the Namibia Diverse Women’s Association (NDWA), presented a submission of the sexual and diverse community. This submission stated the realities and problematic area they have brought forth. The joint submission of nine organisations that got together was the LGBTI+, sex worker’s movements and women and adolescent and young girls. “The commonalities of struggles we have come across are discrimination, inequalities and injustices,” she mentioned.