Democracy and rights
Abbreviated as NAM by Abbreviationfinder, Namibia has a functioning democratic system. Citizens are free to exercise their political rights, the media work in a tolerant climate and the level of corruption is low compared to Africa in general.
Free elections for parliamentary and presidential elections are held regularly and political parties can operate freely. The elections are usually free of violence and the voters are not exposed to threats and pressure from the authorities.
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The Constitution guarantees political rights to all citizens. Special efforts have been made to increase the proportion of women in Parliament. The proportion of women constitutes more than 40 percent of the members – one of the highest figures in Africa. All ethnic groups are represented in Parliament, but the indigenous people’s ability to exercise their political rights is limited to some extent by the group living in isolation, with inadequate education and limited financial resources (see also Population).
The government respects the Constitution’s injunction on freedom of assembly and association. Workers have the right to organize themselves (see Labor Market). The rights of women, children and sexual minorities are subject to restrictions (see Social conditions).
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Constitution and is generally respected. When it comes to freedom of the press, Namibia is considered one of the best countries in Africa. In 2018, Namibia was awarded 20 by the Reporters Without Borders organization, which annually measures how freedom of the press is respected in the countries of the world. With that rating, Namibia also ranked among the 30 highest ranked countries at international level, see ranking list here.
The work of journalists is limited by a few laws, but it appears that those in power express themselves in a way that can be perceived as a threat to individual journalists. Privately owned media are generally outspoken, while writers on state-owned media are reported to be engaging in some self-censorship. Private media is also more difficult to manage financially as the state prioritizes the state media as a channel for state information and advertising. The internet is not censored and social media has become a channel to vent political dissatisfaction.
Namibia has established a legal framework to combat corruption, including a law that protects so-called whistle-blowers and one that protects witnesses, and there are procedures for investigating and clear punishments defined for corruption crimes. In the organization Transparency International’s annual index of the degree of corruption in the countries of the world, Namibia is among the countries in Africa that receive the best rating, see ranking list here. Despite this, there are accusations against the unit that will fight corruption ACC (The Anti-Corruption Commission) that high-ranking people avoid and that investigations that are politically sensitive are closed down.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the Constitution, the judicial system must be independent of the executive power and in general this division of power works in practice. Judges are appointed by the president but usually work independently and without pressure. However, the entire legal system is adversely affected by a lack of resources. There are not enough trained judges and lawyers, which leads to legal proceedings dragging on endlessly over time. It can take up to ten years between arrests and trial.
Human rights organizations are allowed to operate freely, as is the Ombudsman of the country, which inter alia investigates reports of abuse by police or security forces. The violations that are detected usually generate punishment.
There are no reports of grave human rights violations, but criticism has been directed at Namibia for legal proceedings against over 100 people accused of involvement in a separatist uprising in 1999 (see Modern History). According to Amnesty International the allegations appear to be based on ethnicity, political views or membership in some organizations, rather than on active participation in the uprising, which causes the organization to regard many of the defendants as prisoners of conscience. The trial that went on for 15 years took a large portion of the legal apparatus’s resources into use. In 2013, 43 people were acquitted, but the proceedings continued against more than 60 people who were accused of, among other things, high treason, murder and upsetting. 30 people were sentenced in 2015 to long prison sentences, in practice life. Others were acquitted. Eight of those imprisoned are referred to as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
Missing conditions, such as lack of food and access to health care, have been reported from the country’s detention center which is often overcrowded. Conditions are better at prisons. Both voluntary organizations and the country’s Ombudsman are allowed to inspect the prisons and prisoners are allowed to meet their relatives.