A first for Namibia

Petrus Hatupopi is the first Namibian to work at the Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an organ of the African Union based in Banjul, Gambia.

13 July 2018 | People

Octavia Tsibes

After matric Petrus Hatupopi studied law at the University of Namibia (Unam) where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree, which is also known as an LLB. After obtaining his law degree, Hatupopi went to further his studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, where he obtained a masters’ degree in law (LLM).

After completing his studies at UCT he started working as a prosecutor based at the Rundu Magistrate’s Court. As a prosecutor he represented the state in criminal proceedings and assisted the court in ascertaining the truth.

“Rundu is a busy station, which also serves a big region. I had to travel sometimes to prosecute at periodical courts, such as Mukwe Ndiyona and Kahenge near Nkurenkuru. I also performed the duties of a maintenance officer, as defined in the Maintenance Act,” he says.

He worked at Rundu until May 2018, when he moved to Banjul, Gambia to work for the African Union at the Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, under the African Union Youth Division.

He specialises in international law, with specific reference to the international protection of human rights, international criminal law and international law of the sea, as well as international environmental law and the law of international trade.

The legal department of the secretariat is responsible for handling complaints of alleged human rights violations in various party states to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. His work is mainly conducting research on various legal issues, monitoring the human rights situation on the African continent and monitoring recent developments in international law, and drafting documents such as resolutions and recommendations on the complaints received.

His daily workload is manageable, Hatupopi says.

He has a to-do list and a diary, which helps him keep track of the tasks he has to complete before their respective deadlines.

He also filters out tasks that have already been completed. “It helps to monitor progress and prevent work overload. My work requires me to manage multiple tasks at once. Some tasks, I deal with them as they come, to prevent the work pressure from mounting. I refrain from procrastinating and just do what needs to be done,” he says.

Career highlight

The highlight of Hatupopi’s career journey so far is getting an opportunity to become an international civil servant, while working with specialists in the area of international law, specifically the international protection of human rights. “I play a role in the promotion and protection of the human rights situation on the continent, by working towards ensuring the implementation of and compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by party states, and I also get exposure to the work of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. I have produced research papers that the commissioners have considered in their decision-making processes and which they have relied upon for their promotional missions to party states. It is gratifying to see that you are positively impacting other people’s lives through your work,” he says.

Hatupopi thinks mentorship is important in every industry. According to him, mentors are people who have walked exactly the same steps or similar ones that we want to take in our career journeys. He further says it is important to have such a person who can guide you, by providing you with the relevant information, knowledge and advice you may need to make informed decisions.

“A mentor is a source of inspiration and everyone needs that on their career paths,” he says.

He says there is so much that one can do with a law degree, and choosing a path can be a difficult decision.

“If you find it difficult to make such a decision, a mentor can assist you to make up your mind and guide you on your career path and also call you to order if you are derailing or going astray, deliberately or unknowingly,” he says.

He adds a mentor is the right person to give you the dos and the don’ts, as well as the pros and the cons of everything.

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