Improve living conditions - Walters

According to Ombudsman John Walters while political rights are protected in Namibia, the country has failed in terms of entrenching social and economic rights

11 December 2019 | Local News

Over 900 000 Namibians living in shacks, an unrelenting hepatitis E outbreak, skyrocketing youth unemployment and the stigmatisation of gays and lesbians is an indictment of government's failure to protect the human rights of Namibians.

This is according to Ombudsman John Walters, who said there is a perception that government is not truly committed to the socio-economic rights of its citizens. According to him there is a drastic need to improve the living conditions of Namibians.

Walters was speaking on Monday, on the eve of Human Rights Day yesterday, which is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.

According to Walters while political rights are protected in Namibia, the country has failed in terms of entrenching social and economic rights.

“Something must be wrong with our education system if 44 000 children dropped out of school, as was reported. And the deepest concern is access to housing, sanitation and to the highest standards of physical and mental health. Look at the unemployment rate in our county and the poverty levels,” Walters said.

He said while it may not be an easy task for governments to build houses for all their people, it is clear that the Namibian government is not serious about delivery, considering the poor conditions that have prevailed for the last 30 years.

“We need to change and seriously look into the issue of socio-economic rights and see how we can improve the lives of our people. I would love to see our new parliament debate this issue and the rights of our citizens,” he said.

Police brutality

The director of Namibia Networks of Aids Service Organisations (NANASO) Sandy Tjaronda said generally rights are protected in Namibia, but there remains some grey areas.

This includes a lack of access to information, which makes it difficult for citizens to access important information from government offices.

Another issue, he added, is police brutality, which has occurred in the wake of the joint police and military crime-fighting operation Operation Kalahari Desert, and its forerunner Operation Hornkranz.

“Innocent and defenceless civilians have been killed by the police and army, the taxi driver and the young man that was killed last week. That is not good for human rights and quite often nobody ever accounts for what happened beyond them being investigated and a case being opened,” he said.

Another issue that needs attention is the treatment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, as well as sex workers, by the authorities.

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