OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee
considered the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh periodic
reports of Namibia, submitted in one document (CERD/C/275/Add.1),
at its 1169th and 1170th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1169-1170),
held on 13 and 14 August 1996. At its 1180th meeting, on
21 August 1996, the Committee adopted the following concluding
2. The Committee
particularly welcomes the opportunity to engage in a frank
and fruitful dialogue with the Government of Namibia and
expresses its satisfaction at the presence of an official
of the Ministry of Justice. Although several reports were
submitted in the past on behalf of Namibia by the Council
for Namibia, the consideration of the present report - which
may well be considered as an initial report - constitutes
the first opportunity for the Committee to assess the implementation
of the Convention in Namibia since its independence.
3. The Committee
commends the State party for the frankness of the report
and notes with appreciation its general compliance with
the guidelines for the preparation of State party reports.
Despite its brevity, the report contains useful information
on legal and administrative measures taken to give effect
to the Convention, as well as on some difficulties faced
in the implementation process. Those difficulties were,
however, described in broad terms without details of the
concrete steps envisaged to overcome them. Furthermore,
the report was lacking economic, social and demographic
indicators that would have assisted the Committee in the
evaluation of the situation.
4. The Committee
expresses its satisfaction with the additional information
provided by the representative of the State party in response
to questions asked and observations made by Committee members
in the course of the discussion. In that respect, the statement
by the State party's representative that the core document
containing information referred to in the guidelines concerning
the initial part of reports of States parties would be submitted
in the near future was particularly welcomed.
5. Some members
of the Committee recommend that the State party envisage
the possibility of making the declaration provided for in
article 14 of the Convention.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
6. It is recognized
that much remains to be done to overcome vestiges of a long
period of subjection to colonialism and apartheid. The State
party's efforts towards full enforcement of the principles
and provisions enshrined in the Convention have been seriously
hampered by continuing resort to a number of out-of-date
- although still in force - discriminatory laws of the former
Government. It is also noted that some discriminatory social
attitudes still prevalent and generally tolerated in certain
parts of the population are not conducive to the promotion
of the implementation of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
7. It is noted
with particular satisfaction that, despite severe economic
and social difficulties, important steps have been taken
by the Government since independence to put an end to racial
discrimination in all its forms, notably through a remarkable
policy of national reconciliation.
8. It is noted
with appreciation that the Constitution of Namibia includes
a bill of rights which can be invoked before the Courts.
Furthermore, the Racial Discrimination Prohibition Amendment
Act was adopted in December 1991 and subsequent legislative
measures were passed to reinforce it, such as the Land Redistribution
Act and the Agricultural Reform Act. Through these constitutional
and legislative provisions, certain acts of discrimination
and practices of apartheid have been made criminally punishable.
9. It is also
appreciated that serious efforts are being undertaken by
the Master of the High Court, the Law Reform and Development
Commission and the Ministry of Justice to amend or repeal
out-of-date or discriminatory legal provisions. Note is
taken of the establishment under the Constitution of the
office of the Ombudsman with a view to the promotion and
protection of human rights.
10. The policy
of affirmative action in areas such as education, training
and employment is particularly welcomed.
D. Principal subjects of concern
is expressed at the subsistence of out-of-date and discriminatory
laws and the persistence of practices inherited from the
is expressed at the fact that, despite affirmative measures
taken to eliminate social and economic disparities, black
people and mixed race people (coloureds) who comprise 95
per cent of the population, still face serious discrimination
in many areas, such as access to property, education, employment,
health care or housing.
is expressed over the persistence of a dual legal system
regulating important aspects of personal status, such as
marriage and succession. In that regard, it is noted with
concern that there remain serious discrepancies in the system
applicable to white, coloured and black people under the
Administration of Estate Act.
is expressed at the extent of persistent discriminatory
attitudes still prevalent in certain parts of the population
and the private sector, as well as at the insufficient effectiveness
of measures taken to overcome those difficulties. It is
further noted with concern that there seem to exist instances
of discrimination in the public sector on the grounds of
is expressed at the lack of information in the report relating
to the implementation in law and practice of article 5 of
the Convention, as well as on the situation of vulnerable
groups, particularly the San/Bushmen.
is expressed about apparent delays in the process of desegregation
in the field of education, as well as the persistence of
serious difficulties faced by black children in their access
to public and private education, particularly insofar as
secondary and higher education are concerned.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
17. The Committee
invites the Government to include in its next periodic report
information on the points raised in the present concluding
observations, as well as on remaining questions posed and
observations made by Committee members in the course of
18. The Committee
recommends that urgent measures be taken to eliminate all
remaining discriminatory laws and practices. It encourages
the State party to strengthen measures taken to foster a
culture that effectively protects human rights by disseminating
as widely as possible information on the international human
rights instruments to which it is party and on the outcome
of the consideration of the present report, among the authorities
responsible for the enforcement of the Convention's provisions,
as well as among the general public.
19. The Committee
recommends that additional steps be taken to combat racial
discrimination in the fields of property, land distribution,
education, housing, employment, health care and equitable
distribution of resources. Affirmative measures should thus
be adopted to overcome vestiges of the past that still hamper
the possibilities for black people, including vulnerable
groups among them, to have access to secondary and higher
education and to enjoy just and favourable conditions of
work in the private sector. Similarly, additional measures
should be taken in the field of land redistribution.
20. The Committee
encourages efforts currently under way by the Master of
the High Court and the Law Reform and Development Commission
to revise the dual system governing marriage and inheritance.
More generally, a systematic study of the domestic law should
be undertaken to ensure its full compliance with the provisions
of the Convention.
21. The Committee
recommends that the State party provide, in its next periodic
report, information on the number of complaints filed and
judgements passed on acts of racism or racial discrimination.
22. The Committee
suggests that publicity be given to the State party's seventh
periodic report, as well as to the present concluding observations.
23. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify at its earliest convenience
the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention,
adopted by the fourteenth meeting of States parties.
24. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report be
an updating report and that it address all the points raised
in these concluding observations.