WINDHOEK: The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday launched the ‘Guide to Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Namibia’ at a local hotel.
Launching the guide, Associate Professor in Public Law of the Law School at the University of Namibia (Unam), Dr Nico Horn said despite significant progress over the years by Namibia to protect and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in its territory, some work still remains to be done to ensure full compliance with the country’s domestic and international legal obligations.
“The guide briefly explores some of these legal obligations and main legal frameworks regarding the rights of marginalised or indigenous communities in Namibia,” he noted.
As provided for by the Constitution, all international human rights’ treaties are part of the Namibian legal system, and bind the State in its dealings with all Namibians.
However, Namibia is yet to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, which is the only international treaty open to ratification that deals specifically with indigenous peoples’ rights.
Due to a significant number of indigenous people in Namibia and the marginalisation and exclusion these groups have witnessed, the booklet looks at the obligation Namibia has towards them, based on regional and international instruments to which Namibia is a State party.
It also evaluates how Namibia is respecting and implementing these obligations at domestic level. This guide further seeks to provide State and non-State institutions which are in charge of delivering public services with a practical guide on standards, norms and principles to bear in mind while designing, implementing and monitoring programmes on indigenous peoples in Namibia.
A further aim is to enhance the human rights’ situation of indigenous communities in the country, and hope for a better understanding of their rights.
At the same occasion, Ombudsman Advocate John Walters said the guide will be translated into all the country’s indigenous languages.
Namibia has two major indigenous groups, namely the San and the Ovahimba.
Since 2007, other small indigenous groups, namely the Ovatue and Ovatjimba, have gained more visibility.
The booklet gives an overview of who are indigenous people; the rights of indigenous peoples under international law and Namibian law; land, natural resources and property; education; health; gender equality; culture and language; labour rights and employment; and access to justice.
“The population as a whole needs to be educated, and made aware of the plight of indigenous people and their particular contribution to society. Only then will inclusion of the indigenous people in mainstream society as distinct equals be possible,” read the booklet.