Namibia Human Rights

Namibia held democratic elections November 27th & 28th, 2009 in which President Hifikepunye Phamba was re-elected and the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) held onto the majority in parliament. Namibia will hold a general election in November 2014.

Amnesty International is concerned about violence against women and girls, prison conditions, and the Caprivi treason trial. Gender-based violence remained a serious concern. According the U.S. State Department issued report of 2012 a multiyear Zero Tolerance for Gender-Based Violence and Human Trafficking campaign, concluding with a formal National Plan of Action on Gender-Based Violence 2012-16 issued by the Ministry of Gender Equality and ChildWelfare and LAC.

Most prisons and detention centers remained overcrowded, with some holding more than twice the intended number. Windhoek Central Prison, which was designed to hold 912 inmates, contained approximately 2,000 inmates and pre-trial detainees. Other concerns have been raised about the length of time an individual is held in these conditions pre-trial.

Amnesty International considered that many of the Caprivi treason trial detainees were possible prisoners of conscience because they were arrested solely on the basis of their actual or perceived political views, ethnicity or membership of certain organizations. The group was being tried under what is known as the “common purpose” doctrine, which essentially relieves the prosecution of having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each participant committed conduct which contributed causally to the ultimate unlawful consequence. The doctrine shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defendants and undermines the right to presumption of innocence.

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