International law on ancestral land should be recognised: Nakuta

03 Oct 2018 15:10pm
WINDHOEK, 03 OCT (NAMPA) – Media ombudsman John Nakuta has appealed to the government to consider international laws on the question of ancestral land as they deliberate issues surrounding land reform in the country.
In his presentation at the second National Land Conference here Tuesday, Nakuta said the issue of ancestral land can be argued as per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Namibia is a signatory to.
UNDRIP codifies indigenous historical grievances, contemporary challenges and socio-economic, political and cultural aspirations. It further provides significant tools towards eliminating human rights violations against indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation.
Nakuta said given that Namibia is a signatory to the declaration, the State has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the complete gratification on ancestral land.
“You cannot say you respect the human dignity of people and yet you do not acknowledge their ancestral land. Further, you cannot say you recognise the right to culture and do not recognise their ancestral land,” he argued.
He said although the issue calls for out of the box thinking, it is a human right recognised by the Namibian Constitution and therefore, it requires bold and active leadership to take the directive for such discussion.
The media ombudsman, who is also a law lecturer, concluded that Government should therefore recognise some of the recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
These are that the government should adopt and recognise indigenous people on the basis of self-identification and protecting their rights, such us rights to ownership of the lands they traditionally occupy or use as sources of livelihood. It should also respect their free, prior and informed consent in decision-making processes affecting their rights and interests.
Further, it recommends that the State party should ensure that indigenous peoples have titles over lands and territories that they traditionally occupied or resources they owned. It should seek the free and informed consent of indigenous communities and give primary consideration to their opinions and decisions prior to granting licenses to extractive industries.