Ancestral land commission gains traction

11 October 2018 | Government

OGONE TLHAGE

A commission to deal with the contentious issue of ancestral land claims and restitution is expected to be set up swiftly, after President Hage Geingob asked that the terms of reference be forwarded to his office before the end of next week.

“I will announce in due course a commission that will look into the matter of ancestral land and restitution.

“It is critical that the terms of reference of the commission are well crafted to guide the work of the commission to be focused on the tasks at hand,” Geingob said.

The commission will be headed by a retired judge or eminent person supported by five experts, with secretarial support from the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC).

“In this regard, the attorney-general, in consultation with the minister in the presidency, is directed to come up with draft terms of reference, and proposed candidates to be appointed as commissioners. This must be submitted to me by 16 October,” said Geingob.

He instructed that the commission’s work should be evidence-based and enriched by international experience on this matter.

Geingob said on Monday that the issue of ancestral land claims should be studied and discussed further, The Namibian reported.

“We will interrogate this matter extensively to ascertain what legal and policy reforms will help bolster our efforts to give redress to communities which may have been subjected to many injustices, which dispossessed them of both their ancestral land and dignity. The proposal for a commission of inquiry to look at this matter features prominently, and deserves further interrogation,” he was quoted as saying after the country’s second national land conference last week.

According to Geingob, there are constitutional limitations to redressing some of the ancestral land claims, adding that there is a need for an expansive interpretation of the constitution.

“There is also no constitutional limitation on freedom of speech, and I encourage robust debate where the right to freely express oneself is exercised with the duty to respect the rights of others.

“One thing we all agree on is that the pursuit of solutions to this important matter cannot take place at the expense of infringing upon fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the constitution,” Geingob said.

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