We will not waver: NSHR

We will not waver: NSHR

THE National Society for Human Rights – under attack from the Head of State, Government, Swapo and affiliate groups for its stand on missing people – has vowed to stand firm in the face of the concerted onslaught.

The NSHR has incurred the wrath of the ruling party for asking the International Criminal Court to hold Founding President Sam Nujoma and three others accountable for people who vanished under the care of Swapo before and after Independence. The ICC is weighing the submission.In a statement on Friday, the NSHR said its submission to the ICC did not in any way constitute a violation of the “unwritten and non-existent policy of national reconciliation”, let alone pose a threat to peace and stability in Namibia.The statement came after President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Thursday addressed the nation on Government’s views on the issue.In his televised address, President Pohamba said Government would stop at nothing to defend Nujoma “and other patriotic Namibians” against any potential action.The Head of State charged that the NSHR’s submission was “baseless and frivolous”, and that anyone who “vilified” the former president (Nujoma) was disturbing peace and stability.On Friday, the rights organisation said it rejected pronouncements that just because he was a national hero Nujoma was not only infallible, but also above the law.The NSHR said the Constitution was the supreme law of the land and, “hence, no one is above the law”.”Article 10 of the Constitution guarantees absolute equality of all persons before the law and prohibits all forms of discrimination, whether one is a hero, a heroine or not.”The organisation said unless a law on national reconciliation was passed urgently to provide for past gross violations of human rights to be addressed, it would not withdraw the ICC case.”These violations are not denied by anyone.We therefore will not budge an inch.Like President Pohamba, we are also calling upon all peace-loving Namibians to reject the war talk and incitements to public violence as well as death threats from (Swapo Youth League’s) Elijah Ngurare and other violent elements,” said the NSHR.It noted that the President’s address followed a spate of veiled death threats against him, “other life-threatening intimidation as well as threats of public violence and war coming from certain organs of the ruling Swapo Party”.The NSHR said it dismissed the threats of public violence, as well as accusations levelled at NSHR chief Phil ya Nangoloh, “with the contempt they deserve”.”Its (the NSHR’s) submission to the ICC does not in any way constitute a violation of the unwritten and non-existent ‘Policy of National Reconciliation’, let alone a threat to peace and stability of the country.”The NSHR statement said its submission to the ICC was both procedurally and substantially “a lawful, peaceful, civilised and legitimate act made in terms of Article 13 (c) and 15 of the Rome Statue (‘the Statute’)”.”In terms of Article 27 of the Statute, all persons are equal and treated equally, regardless of their official capacity or national status,” the statement said.The NSHR said thousands of people in Namibia remained aggrieved by, among others, not only “past acts of systematic torture and enforced disappearances, the effects of which are continuing to this date, but also by the failure of …administrative bodies and of officials to formulate a genuine policy of national reconciliation”.”It is the NSHR’s position that to make a submission to the ICC is a non-derogable right of anyone who is aggrieved.It is therefore totally unreasonable and unfair to claim that the NSHR’s submission to the ICC constitutes an ‘insult’ or ‘disrespect’ of anyone, regardless of his or her national status.”The NSHR statement said it regarded threats of violence and war as a threat to the life of Ya Nangoloh.The ICC is weighing the submission.In a statement on Friday, the NSHR said its submission to the ICC did not in any way constitute a violation of the “unwritten and non-existent policy of national reconciliation”, let alone pose a threat to peace and stability in Namibia.The statement came after President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Thursday addressed the nation on Government’s views on the issue.In his televised address, President Pohamba said Government would stop at nothing to defend Nujoma “and other patriotic Namibians” against any potential action.The Head of State charged that the NSHR’s submission was “baseless and frivolous”, and that anyone who “vilified” the former president (Nujoma) was disturbing peace and stability. On Friday, the rights organisation said it rejected pronouncements that just because he was a national hero Nujoma was not only infallible, but also above the law.The NSHR said the Constitution was the supreme law of the land and, “hence, no one is above the law”.”Article 10 of the Constitution guarantees absolute equality of all persons before the law and prohibits all forms of discrimination, whether one is a hero, a heroine or not.”The organisation said unless a law on national reconciliation was passed urgently to provide for past gross violations of human rights to be addressed, it would not withdraw the ICC case.”These violations are not denied by anyone.We therefore will not budge an inch.Like President Pohamba, we are also calling upon all peace-loving Namibians to reject the war talk and incitements to public violence as well as death threats from (Swapo Youth League’s) Elijah Ngurare and other violent elements,” said the NSHR.It noted that the President’s address followed a spate of veiled death threats against him, “other life-threatening intimidation as well as threats of public violence and war coming from certain organs of the ruling Swapo Party”.The NSHR said it dismissed the threats of public violence, as well as accusations levelled at NSHR chief Phil ya Nangoloh, “with the contempt they deserve”.”Its (the NSHR’s) submission to the ICC does not in any way constitute a violation of the unwritten and non-existent ‘Policy of National Reconciliation’, let alone a threat to peace and stability of the country.”The NSHR statement said its submission to the ICC was both procedurally and substantially “a lawful, peaceful, civilised and legitimate act made in terms of Article 13 (c) and 15 of the Rome Statue (‘the Statute’)”.”In terms of Article 27 of the Statute, all persons are equal and treated equally, regardless of their official capacity or national status,” the statement said.The NSHR said thousands of people in Namibia remained aggrieved by, among others, not only “past acts of systematic torture and enforced disappearances, the effects of which are continuing to this date, but also by the failure of …administrative bodies and of officials to formulate a genuine policy of national reconciliation”.”It is the NSHR’s position that to make a submission to the ICC is a non-derogable right of anyone who is aggrieved.It is therefore totally unreasonable and unfair to claim that the NSHR’s submission to the ICC constitutes an ‘insult’ or ‘disrespect’ of anyone, regardless of his or her national status.”The NSHR statement said it regarded threats of violence and war as a threat to the life of Ya Nangoloh.

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