NAMIBIA: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review

Summary: A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the first Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholder's Information'. Also included is the final report and the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.

Namibia - 10th Session - 2011
31st January, 2.30pm to 5.30pm

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National Report

Compilation of UN information
Stakeholder Compilation
Accepted and rejected recommendations

National Report

11. Since independence, the Government has resettled the San people to permanent locations and built houses for them across the country. In 2005, Cabinet approved the San Development Programme. The objective of the programme is to ensure that the San people are fully integrated in mainstream society and economy. A bank account for the San Development Programme was opened with the permission of the Ministry of Finance for budgeting purposes and contribution from donors. The following programmes were undertaken thus far since the inception of the programme:

• Resettlement Programme for San people. The Government has purchased farms, and allocated it to the San people. The Ministry of Land and Resettlement gave them livestock (cattle and goats), some farming implements and trained them in farming to produce food for self sustenance.

• Education for San children The Government launched the "back to school and stay at school for San children" programme and provides them with scholarships

• Literacy project for all the San people

• Early-Childhood Development Centres were established

• Employment opportunities. The National Government has given directives to all Ministries and Regional Governments to apply affirmative action principles in terms of the law in the employment of San people. Many of the Ministries including the Ministry of Defence, Safety and Security have relaxed requirements for employing San people in the Defence and Police Forces.

• With the assistance of NGO's, the Community Conservancy programme is one of the programmes established for the benefit of San people which has been more successful

• San Feeding Programme: Due to extreme poverty amongst the San, Government introduced feeding programmes for the San Communities on a regular basis.

41. Namibia has ratified or acceded to the following major international and regional human rights instruments.

• International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), on 28 February 1995

• International covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR), on 28 February 1995

• Optional protocol to the ICCPR, on 28 February 1995

• 2nd Optional protocol to the ICCPR, on 28 February 1995

• International convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), on 11 November 1982

• Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), on 28 November 1994

• International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, acceded on 11 November 1982

• Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide, acceded on 28 November 1994

• Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, acceded on 17 February 1995

• Protocol relating to the status of Refugees, on 17 February 1995

• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), on 23 November 1992

• Optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, on 22 December 2000

• Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), on 30 October 1990

• Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, on 16 April 2002

• Convention on the Rights of person with Disabilities,

• Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities,

• African Charter on Human and People's Rights, on 30 July 1992

• Protocol to the African Charter for Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa,

• African Children's Charter, 23 July 2004

• OAU Convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in African, acceded on 2 September 1992 and

• African Youth Charter, on 31 May 2009.

43. Namibia is also a State party to the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction on 21 September 1998. Namibia became a State party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 26 June 2002. Namibia is also a State party to the 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of Children in armed conflicts on 16 April 2002.

45. Namibia as a State Party to the major human rights instruments has submitted the following reports to the relevant treaty bodies:

(a) In 2007, the initial and first periodic report on International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

(b) In 2004, the second and third periodic report on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Woman (CEDAW).

(c) In 2006, the periodic report on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

(d) In 1997, the initial report on International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

(e) In 2009, the second periodic report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

(f) In 2010, the initial, first, and second periodic report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

(g) In 2001, the initial and first periodic report on the African Charter on human and People's Rights.

(h) In 2010, the third, fourth and fifth periodic report on African Charter on human and People's Rights.

57. Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution provides that all persons in Namibia shall have the right to education. It further provides that Primary education shall be compulsory and shall be provided free of charge at State schools. Education is compulsory for 10 years between the ages of 6 and 16. Primary education is for seven years, and secondary school last for five years. In 2001 Parliament passed the Education Act, (Act 16 of 2001) to give effect to the Constitution and other International Human Rights Instruments. The Act allows for schools to establish a school development fund which can be levied at an amount of N$ 500-00 (US$ 68.50) and N$ 250-00 (US$ 34.24) for secondary and Primary schools respectively. The Act further provides that no child should be turned away as a result of non payment of school fees. There are however a number of reports that some schools don't adhere and comply with the law. Many children are denied access to certain schools because they cannot afford to pay school fees.

58. Soon after independence in 1990, schools in Namibia have all been desegregated in line with the Constitution and the Education Act. The different classification of schools belonging to different racial groups has all disappeared. All Government schools are now open to all Namibians regardless of race, colour, religion or ethnic background. The Ministry of Education established the Directorate of Adult and Continuing Education to cater for the educational needs of adults and out of school youths.

59. There are 1 672 schools in Namibia, of which 1571 are State schools and 101 are private schools. 1039 are primary schools of which 986 are State schools and 53 are private. There are about 20 333 teachers in the country for about 577 290 learners (male 53, 8% and female 50, 7%) who enrolled in schools in 2010, of which 407 000 is the enrolment at primary schools.

62. There are public schools in all the major towns throughout the country, with several private operated schools in the main centres of the country. About 80 % of the population aged 15 years and older is literate, and 65 % of the people aged 6 to 24 years are enrolled in schools. About 42 % of the people aged 15 years and older have completed their primary education while 15 % have completed secondary education. As of 1999, public expenditure on education had been estimated at 8 % of the GDP.

68. Customary laws do not set a minimum age for marriage, but marriage generally does not take place before puberty, or before the attainment of an acceptable level of social maturity. Family consent is required for a marriage to proceed, but lately (in most communities) the consent of both the intended spouses is necessary as well. A customary law marriage involves a series of negotiations between two groups and creates rights and responsibilities between all family members. Customary law marriages never enjoyed legal recognition prior to Independence in 1990, primarily because of their polygamous nature. Currently the LRDC has drafted a piece of legislation on recognition of customary law marriages, for public and stakeholders consultation.

80. Women's physical integrity is reasonably well protected by Namibian legislation. However, violence against women is a serious challenge. Rape and domestic violence are widespread. In 2003, the Namibian Government responded to the escalating incidence of sexual violence by adopting anti-rape legislation that broadens the definition of rape and allows the perpetrators of spousal rape to be punished. Sexual relations with minors under 14 are considered as rape and are punishable by prison sentences ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment. In most rape cases, victims know the perpetrator and rape is often committed by a family member or friend. Rape victims seldom press charges because families in Namibia prefer to settle matters privately. Because of strong social pressure, complaints are rarely brought against perpetrators of spousal rape.

81. Numerous cases of rape were prosecuted during the past years, and the courts enforced rape penalties, which provide for sentences of between five and 45 years' imprisonment for convicted rapists. According to police statistics for 2008, 11,611 cases of gender-based violence were reported, 940 of which involved rape cases. A number of factors continued to hamper rape prosecutions, including lack of police transport, poor communication between police stations, lack of expertise in dealing with child rape complainants, and the withdrawal of cases by rape complainants after they filed charges.

82. There are 15 women and child protection units in the country staffed with police officers trained to assist victims of sexual assault in Namibia. Over the past years the People's Education, Assistance, and Counseling for Empowerment Center and other NGOs continued to provide training to these units. In some magistrates' courts, there are special courtrooms to protect vulnerable witnesses from open testimony. The courtrooms featured a cubicle made of one-way glass and child-friendly waiting rooms. The Government recently launched the "Zero Tolerance Campaign against Gender Based Violence, Including Human Trafficking," to raise public awareness and highlight ways in which the public could help to address the problem.

83. During 2007 and 2008, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare commissioned a survey on gender-based violence in the country. The findings reveals that 40, 5% of the female respondents had experienced physical gender-based violence and 36, 4% of all children had been subjected to physical violence.

84. Namibia has no specific legislation on trafficking in persons. The Government is in the process of enacting legislation on Human Trafficking. Parliament passed the Prevention of Organized Crime Act No 29 of 2004, which criminalizes trafficking in persons, slavery, kidnapping, and forced labour, including forced prostitution, child labour, and aliens smuggling. According to the assessment which was conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare in 2009, two cases of human trafficking were identified. The case of a mother at the coastal town of Walvisbay was reported. The mother is said to have used her teenage daughter who was living in the north for sexual exploitation through forced prostitution. Another case involves a Zambian national trafficking Zambian boys into Namibia for farm work exploitation. These cases were reported to the police and the perpetrators were arrested.

100. Namibia became a state party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1982, when the UN Committee for Namibia ratified it on behalf of the people of Namibia. After independence, the Government adopted a policy of National reconciliation whereby people were expected to forgive one another for the wrongs committed in the past and forge ahead in a conciliatory tone and nation building. In 1991, parliament enacted legislations to give effect to the Convention; namely: Racial Discrimination Prohibition Act No 26 of 1991 as amended in 1998, Agricultural (Commercial) Reform Act No 6 of 1995, Affirmative Action (Employment) Act No 29 of 1998, the Education Act No 16 of 2001, and Children Status Act No 16 of 2006. In 2007, Namibia submitted its combined report on CERD for the period 1997 to 2005 to the relevant treaty body.

102. The Namibian Constitution contains provisions that protect and promote children's rights such as the rights to a name, nationality, the right to education, the right to know and be cared by their parents, protection against economic exploitation and hazardous work, and protection against detention under the age of 16 years.

103. Namibia adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols in 1990, during its first year as a nation. Two years later the initial report to the treaty body was submitted. The First, Second and Third periodic report was submitted in 2009. Since independence Namibia has undertaken a broad programme and policies including enacting legislation to improve the social wellbeing and safety of the children in Namibia. The Government created the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare to focus more on the needs of women and children. In fact Namibia is amongst the top countries in Africa with the most child friendly policies.

104. Namibia is among the first African countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of a Child, which states that all children have the right to be registered immediately after birth and. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration is responsible for the normal birth registration and issuing of birth certificates of both new born babies and other citizens. In the near future, the Ministry together with the Ministry of Health and Social Services are planning to expand birth registration points around the country especially to hospitals. As from the end of September 2008 all the babies born in Windhoek are getting registered immediately and issued with birth certificate. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration set up a satellite office at the Katutura State hospital where registration can be done immediately after birth.

UN Compilation

6. The HR Committee in 200416 and CERD in 200817 encouraged Namibia to take all necessary steps to strengthen the legislative mandate and the capacity of the Office of the Ombudsman, so that it effectively fulfilsits mandate. In 2010, the United Nations Children's fund (UNICEF) noted the need for sensitization of staff of the Office of the Ombudsman on children's issues and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

7. In 2005, Namibia adopted the United Nations Plan of Action (2005–2009) for the World Programme for Human Rights Education focusing on the national school system. Human rights education is integrated in the national curriculum and in educational standards. The National Curriculum for Basic Education provides a legal basis for human rights and democracy education. A national human rights and democracy education programme has been implemented since 1999 with the assistance of UNESCO.

11. While noting the establishment of a Law Reform and Development Commission which is charged with, inter alia, the review of discriminatory laws dating back to colonial times, CERD, in 2008, reiterated its concern about the discriminatory character of some Namibian laws that remain in force, including with regard to the administration of intestate inheritance. It also remained concerned about aspects of customary laws of certain ethnic groups on personal status that discriminate against women and girls, including laws pertaining to marriage and inheritance.

18. In 2010, UNICEF noted that violence against children remained widespread. The response of the legal system in cases of rape and gender-based violence remained inadequate, especially concerning the reporting of cases and follow-through to the courts. Lack of trained social workers, heavy workloads and time-consuming administrative tasks impacted on the effectiveness and quality of services provided to orphans and vulnerable children.

19. In 2010, the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (ILO Committee of Experts) expressed concern for the large number of children under the minimum age of 14 who were engaged in economic activities. The Committee requested Namibia to pursue its efforts within the Action Programme to Eliminate Child labour in Namibia 2008–2012 to ensure that, in practice, children under the age of 14 would not engage in child labour.33 The Committee also requested Namibia, so as to be consistent with Convention No. 182 (1999) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, to take measures to prohibit the use, procuring or offering of both boys and girls for prostitution, and to prevent children affected by HIV/AIDS from being engaged in the worst forms of child labour.

20. In 2010, the ILO Committee of Experts stated that children were trafficked from third countries to Namibia for livestock and child-minding work and that children were trafficked within Namibia for work in agriculture, road construction, vending and commercial sex work. It noted that, because of the absence of a specific provision on human trafficking in Namibia, no prosecutions or convictions were recorded for trafficking in persons and urged Namibia to take the necessary measures to ensure that the draft Child Care and Protection Bill, which related to child trafficking, is adopted in the near future.

22. In 2010, UNICEF noted that juvenile offenders under the age of 18 were tried in special, closed courts. Diversion programmes aim to prevent the imprisonment of children. Successful completion of programmes leaves the child without a criminal record. UNICEF also noted that the Office of the Ombudsman found that the majority of detention centres did not have separate facilities for children though and that the prison infrastructure was poorly prepared to meet CRC requirements.

32. CEDAW in 200752 and UNICEF in 201053 expressed concern about the high dropout rates of girls from formal education, teenage pregnancies ranking highly among the reasons for girls' school drop-out. UNICEF added that there remained a need for a strategy to address issues that challenged the completion of education by many girls.

33. In 2008, CERD urged Namibia to strengthen the implementation of its laws and policies aimed at the desegregation of education. In particular, it urged Namibia to increase its efforts aimed at reducing illiteracy, especially among the most marginalized communities.

34. In 2010, UNICEF also indicated that there was concern that the improvement in the quality of education lagged far behind the expansion in access, and that child-centred learning initiatives needed strengthening.

39. In 2010, UNICEF reported that the right of children to civic participation was widely respected. Most schools had Learners Representative Associations that acted as liaison between students and school administration. In 2007, the Namibian Parliament took the lead in establishing an annual Children's Parliament which brings children's issues to the attention of parliamentarians. The development of the new Child Care and Protection Bill was a good example for the involvement of children in political decision making. A Children's Reference Group was integral part of the public consultation process, ensuring that children's views were included.

40. In 2008, CERD acknowledged the difficulties with which Namibia has been confronted in eliminating racial discrimination following decades of its institutionalization during colonial occupation and welcomed Namibia's efforts to combat segregation and racial discrimination in various areas, particularly education. It also welcomed the adoption of special measures in the context of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

41. The 2006–2010 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) indicated that the continued increase in HIV prevalence and the growing impact of AIDS was not only Namibia's foremost challenge to fulfilling rights to life and health, but also a threat to the fulfilment of all human rights in the nation. The negative impact of AIDS on health and longevity was the major factor contributing to a reduction in the population growth rate. Likewise, as a result of AIDS Namibia's life expectancy declined. Although the rate of new HIV infections may be slowing down, there were more people falling ill, dying and leaving behind a rising number of orphans and vulnerable children.

46. In 2007, CEDAW encouraged Namibia to take steps to ensure accurate recording of maternal deaths and to obtain assistance to this end from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Stakeholder Compilation

3.With regard to the promotion and protection of children's rights, the Ombudsman welcomed the Draft Child Care and Protection Bill which, once adopted, would replace the outdated Children's Act of 1960. It stated that that Bill embodied all the existing international commitments including by criminalizing trafficking of children. The Ombudsman called on Namibia to move swiftly to enact that bill.

10. The Ombudsman stated that although Namibia has submitted reports to treaty bodies, it has not complied with all its reporting obligations. It noted, for instance, that with regard to CAT, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, only initial reports were submitted and there were significant delays in subsequent reporting. Also, in the case of ICESCR, the initial report was yet to be submitted, as well subsequent reports that were due in 2002 and 2007.

11. NSHR indicated that discrimination against women remained pervasive. It deplored Namibia's non-recognition of customary marriages and the deprivation of the rights of women and children with regard to inheritance and land ownership, as well as the widespread societal discrimination against, and the marginalization of women.

16. The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) stated that in Namibia corporal punishment was lawful in the home. The Children's Act No. 33 of 1960 confirmed that parents had a right to punish and discipline their children. There were discussions of a Child Care and Protection Bill in order to prohibit all corporal punishment in child rearing.

31. The Ombudsman stated that while there was a constant increase in the enrolment in primary school education, there remained a worrying trend of not retaining the number of enrolled primary school learners in secondary school education. It also stated that the Namibian Constitution guaranteed free and compulsory primary education. However, parents were required to contribute to the school development fund, pay for stationary, uniforms, school books, transport costs and examination fees (parents who were unable to afford the school development fund could apply for exemption). The Ombudsman called on Namibia to abolish the school development fund for primary education and introduce legislative, administrative and other measures to compel children to remain in attendance in school, thereby reducing the school drop out rate; introduce steps towards progressively achieving free secondary and higher education; encourage a culture of respect for human rights from an early age by introducing human rights education in schools; expand the program of vocational education to accommodate those who had dropped out of school as well as those whose primary or secondary education did not provide them with the skills required by the urban labour market.

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations

The following recommendations were accepted:

A - 96.1. Strengthen efforts to fulfil obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Australia)

A - 96.3. Adopt appropriate legislation on trafficking in human beings, prohibit the use, procuring or offering of children for prostitution and ensure that children under the age of 14 are not engaged in child labour (Slovenia)

A - 96.6. Strengthen the mechanisms of legal and social protection of children against violence, particularly sexual, of which they are victims (France)

A - 96.9. Pursue efforts to address concerns regarding child labour, in particular through its Action Programme to Eliminate Child Labour in Namibia 2008-2012 (Botswana)

A - 96.10. Redouble efforts aimed at fully implementing the Action Programme to Eliminate Child labour in Namibia 2008-2012 (Malaysia)

A - 96.13. Further promote women's and children's rights taking into consideration the views of relevant treaty bodies of the United Nations system (Italy)

A - 96.42. Apply fully the legislation geared towards combating discrimination and violence, particularly sexual, against women and young girls, particularly in terms of access of victims to justice and of training of magistrates, judges and police regarding this problem (France)

A - 96.52. The existing women's and children units in the country which are staffed with police officers be strengthened with sufficient human and logistical resources (Ghana)

A - 96.68. Continue its education policy, giving special emphasis to the education of young girls (Niger)

A - 97.4. Continue pursuing appropriate policies, such as the Action Programme to Eliminate Child Labour in Namibia 2008-2012, in particular with regard to ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, to address the phenomenon of child labour (Slovakia)

A - 97.9. Continue its efforts to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against boys and girls (Argentina)

A - 97.11. Increase its efforts to combat violence against women and children (Germany)

A - 97.16. Adopt a systematic approach to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (Turkey)

No recommendations remain pending

No recommendations were rejected

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