The 9th of February 2020 marked 30 years since the adoption of the Namibian Constitution. This year’s anniversary is all the more special as it coincides with the country’s 30th independence anniversary to be observed on 21 March. The Ombudsman celebrated Constitution Day across six different regions, with the main event held at the Dawid Bezuidenhout High School Windhoek. Celebrations followed in Southern Namibia, at the Suiderlug High School in Keetmanshoop. Otjiwarongo Secondary School, Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School, ST Kizito College and Coastal High School in Swakopmund all hosted grade 12 learners from different schools in their respective regions to commemorate the event. The event was celebrated with grade 12 learners in order to create awareness about the constitution amongst the young people, who will soon be navigating the world as young adults.
Members of the founding Constituent Assembly addressed the learners across the regions and reiterated the importance of taking pride in the constitution and that each and every right enshrined in the Constitution comes with a responsibility from them, as citizens. The Ombudsman reiterated the sentiments stating that citizens lack a sense of pride in the constitution. And that they are responsible for fulfilling many of the rights enshrined in the constitution.
Learners participated in a poem competition with the theme, what the Constitution means to me. Learners submitted well written thought- provoking poems and walked away with exciting prizes.
The Ombudsman will be conducting formal hearings on discrimination against persons with albinism, customary practices and myths associated with persons with albinism, violence against persons with albinism and other challenges faced by them. The Ombudsman also invites proposals on how the issues could be addressed, either in new legislation or amending existing legislation or through any other appropriate means.
The public is herewith requested to participate in this important venture by making written presentations on the matter and submit it to the Ombudsman, through any of the following means:
• email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
• post to Private Bag 13211, Windhoek
• deliver in person to Office of the Ombudsman, cnr of Feld and Lossen Streets, Ausspannplatz, Windhoek
Or to attend the public hearings at the following places and make oral submissions:
29 July – Oshakati State Hospital from 09h00-13h00
30 July 2019- Eenhana State Hospital from 09h00-13h00
31 July 2019- Okongo District Hospital from 09h00-13h00
1 August 2019- Rundu state hospital from 09h00-13h00
5 August 2019- Windhoek- Disability Resource Centre, Okuryangava, Katutura from 09h00-13h00
The Ombudsman in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat recently held roundtable discussions on equality and inclusion understood in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRH) in Namibia. The discussions also included the context of sexual orientation and gender identity in Namibia. The week-long discussions saw stakeholders from the Education, civil society; NGOs, government and other sectors share their experiences and challenges pertaining to the two issues at hand.
First lady, Monica Geingos was the keynote speaker and urged parents and guardians to speak to their children in a relatable and comfortable manner when it comes to issues regarding sex. She added that parents need to have these difficult conversations with their children,’’ let’s partner with other people where we have to, there are many unconventional partners.’’ Geingos also touched on the financial bargaining power in relationships and how this can have an impact on the SRH of someone who is financially dependent on their partner.
With regards to sexual orientation and gender identity the Ombudsman, John Walters called for the issue to be approached with open minds in order to improve the protection of LGBTIQ persons. The Ombudsman added that the Namibian Constitutional law does not permit the criminal law to be held captive by popular misconceptions about who LBTIQ persons are.
Various speakers shone light on SRH and LGBTIQ matters through presentations including statistics which depicted the situation in the country. Participants in the discussions called for stakeholders to get organized and approach policymakers with one unified voice when advocating for change. A comprehensive report on the discussions and the way forward will be released soon.