EDITORS CORNER

18 May 2011 |

It’s time to put an end to what is either a judicial farce or a human tragedy - or both. And to many legal experts and informed layman who have read the Constitution, it’s a miscarriage of justice. In Article 12 (Fair Trial) Clause (1) (b) of the Constitution, it says: “A trial referred to in Sub-Article (a) hereof shall take place within a reasonable time, failing which the accused shall be released.” Thus Namibia’s highly respected Constitution. And from that Article, most ’reasonable’ people would infer that the detention of the Caprivi treason accused is unconstitutional. Because very, very few ‘reasonable people’ would consider 11 years as a ‘reasonable time’ to have to wait for a verdict. Most people would think 2-4years reasonable and would generally consider four years the upper limit. Eleven years with 19 deaths in detention, cannot be called ‘reasonable’ by any stretch of the imagination. Especially if one considers the truly horrible scenario that some or most of the detainees could be found ‘not guilty’. What then??? Does the State then say: “Sorry, my brother, for keeping you so long. You can go home now.” The first thing that will likely happen is that the State will face a monster claim in damages for Wrongful Arrest. And if the State loses that case, it could face the largest pay-out ever for damages in the history of this Republic. In this context it is way overdue to ask where the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) has been all this time? Are they not supposed to intervene in just such cases as this one? They have a long record of getting intensely and expensively involved in considerably more trivial cases of miscarriage of justice. And yet they seem to be blind, indifferent or intentionally mute on an issue which is blackening the name of the Namibian judicial system the world over. And what about the international NGOs who keep a beady eye world-wide on the slightest violation of human or constitutional rights. Where are they – where is the LAC or the Ombudsman? Monkey no see, monkey no hear, monkey no speak?

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