• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Namibia 2011

June 28, 2011

Head of state and government: Hifikepunye Pohamba
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 2.2 million
Life expectancy: 62.1 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 58/45 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 88.2 per cent

The long-running treason trial of Caprivi detainees entered its 11th year. Another detainee died in custody, bringing the total number of Caprivi detainees who have died in custody to 21. Human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizations critical of government and the ruling South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) party were targeted by government officials and SWAPO supporters.


Opposition political parties petitioned the High Court to nullify the results of the National Assembly elections that were held in November 2009.

Caprivi detainees’ trial

The Caprivi high treason trial, the biggest and longest criminal trial in Namibia’s history, continued. The accused were charged with involvement in attacks carried out in the Caprivi Strip in 1999 by the Caprivi Liberation Army. At the start of the trial in October 2003, there were 132 people on trial. By the end of 2010, 21 of them had died in custody, including Ritual Mukungu Matengu who died on 28 May.

Saviour Ndala Tutalife, Postrick Mwinga and Britian Simisho Lielezo, three Caprivi detainees who lodged compensation claims for torture against the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Defence, had their cases dismissed by the High Court. The judgement in Britian Simisho Lielezo’s case was handed down in January and that of Saviour Ndala Tutalife and Postrick Mwinga in July.

Freedom of expression

Media organizations and journalists critical of the government and members of the ruling SWAPO party were targeted by the authorities and their supporters. Also targeted were human rights defenders and organizations critical of the government. The government maintained a ban imposed in 2000 stopping government departments placing advertisements in the Namibian newspaper, an independent paper seen as critical of the government and SWAPO.

  • On 8 January, John Grobler, a freelance journalist, was attacked by four men, allegedly for publishing an article in the Namibian in September 2009 in which he pointed out the lack of transparency in a business deal involving prominent members of SWAPO.
  • In January, senior government officials ordered the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung foundation to leave the country for reporting that the 2009 elections were relatively free but not fair and organizing meetings attended by opposition political parties.
  • On 28 October, the National Council, Namibia’s parliament, decided to discuss action that should be taken against Phil ya Nangoloh, director of Namibian Rights and Responsibilities Inc (NamRights Inc), formerly the National Society for Human Rights in Namibia. Phil ya Nangoloh had issued a statement accusing former President Sam Nujoma of inciting violence. The National Council called on the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to take action against Phil ya Nangoloh, and he received death threats.

Violence against women and girls

Rape, attempted rape and murder of women were reported throughout the year.

  • Magdalena Stoffels, a 17-year-old high-school pupil, was raped and murdered in Windhoek in July. A suspect was arrested and held in custody.