The Initial information document – Human Rights Conference May 2009

TOWARDS IMPLEMENTING HUMAN RIGHTS: A FRAMEWORK FOR A NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION PLAN The purpose of this document is to set the basic understanding of what a National Human Rights Action plan is, what should be considered when drafting such a plan as well as provide some examples of the content of some rights and what participants might understand as rights that can sort under some of these main rights. All these concepts will be dealt with by the various presenters in more dept during the two day workshop but it must be clarified that the participants in this workshop will need to prepare themselves on these issues as it is envisioned that the outcome of this process will be a national undertaking resulting in a national binding document. Participants are further requested to bring with them any documentation or acts of interest which they feel might be of assistance in the deliberations. It is further necessary that the participants should beforehand establish in their own fields, what the current situation with regard to each of these rights up for discussion is as well as possible identify what problems need to be overcome with regard to the specific right. 1. What is a national human rights action plan? According to Bill Baker, one of the leading experts in the field of Human Rights Action plans, it is: “ a substantial document that sets out a government’s commitments to achieve a comprehensive set of human rights goals, together with the actions that the plan provides for. The concept of the national human rights action plan flows from the realisation that successfully promoting human rights observance requires political will, broad participation and significant financial and human resources. The fundamental purposes of a national action plan are to bring about improvements in human rights observance through specified positive steps, to raise awareness of human rights standards and to strengthen relevant institutions. “ (my emphasis) 2. Why an Action plan for Namibia? The concept of national human rights action plans was developed as part of the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993.The Conference recommended that: “ each State consider the desirability of drawing up a national action plan identifying steps whereby that State would improve the promotion and protection of human rights. It was also internationally understood that the idea of national action plans centres on encouraging change within each country according to the country’s own circumstances. Thus, national action plans are concerned with mobilizing the will to change and developing appropriate mechanisms. 3. General requirements for the drafting process and eventual outcome The following must always kept in mind: • Process and outcome are equally important • There should be a broad and intensive consultation process with civil society and . the general public • The plan should be a national undertaking, involving all elements of society • The plan should be a public document • The plan should incorporate a commitment to universal human rights standards and set out how these standards will be effectively implemented • The plan should be comprehensive in scope, reflecting the interdependence and , indivisibility of human rights • The plan should be action-oriented • Effective monitoring and review of implementation is essential • The national action plan process should be continuous, with the conclusion of one . plan leading to the commencement of another • National action plans have international dimensions 4. Suggested matrix for drawing up a National Action Plan A national action plan should, of course, be action-oriented. The drafting of a national action plan must also facilitate its implementation. Rather than setting forth claims and vague promises, a national action plan should: • Indicate clearly what the current situation is; • Identify what problems need to be overcome; • Specify what action will be taken (in terms that provide benchmarks for the . evaluation of progress); • Specify who is to take the action; • Establish a firm time frame in which action will be taken; and • Provide for effective monitoring and evaluation of what has been done. The South African process used a slightly modified framework. They discussed their identified rights according to the following framework: • Constitutional Obligations • International Obligations • What Has Been Done Policy Legislation Administrative Steps Taken • Further Challenges • Addressing the Challenges • Evaluation and Monitoring • Resources and budget 5. Proposed rights for inclusion in the 1st National Action Plan framework and consideration during the National Human Rights Conference Because the idea is to draft an Action plan with achievable outcomes, the best suggested approach, according to us, would be to identify some rights and to address them specifically. Such an action plan is again a unique product of a country and a living thing that can and should change from time to time. Under the heading: Civil and Political Rights – Life – No Discrimination: – Access to Justice Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Housing and Shelter – Health – Education – Water – Rights of Children and Young people Development, Self-determination, Peace and a Protected Environment – Environment Some of these rights will be combined for the purpose of discussion and under each right the following might guide the think process as well as subsequent discussions: – Life: The right to live is enshrined in article 6 of the Namibian Constitution – Protection of Life. Challenges can include that the abolition of the death penalty is not widely accepted and in the Namibian context, abortion, “baby dumping” – No Discrimination: Article 10 of the Namibian Constitution – Equality and freedom from discrimination; Article 23 of the Constitution – Apartheid and Affirmative Action; Article 95 (a) of the Namibian Constitution; all human beings are created equal and with equal rights and all their rights should be protected and promoted equally, regardless of their race, sex, language, religion, social and economic status, national and social origin. Challenges can include HIV; disability; minority representation in parliament and government; age; economic discrimination – Access to Justice: Article 12 of the Namibian Constitution – Fair trial rights with special emphasis on a trail taking place within a reasonable time (speedy trial rights); being brought before a court within 48 hours after arrest; presumption of innocence; juvenile offenders; access to courts; re-designing the administration of justice system to enhance speedy trail; reduction of crime; upholding human rights; detention of detainees; providing legal aid and the cost implications thereof; – Housing and Shelter: Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; adequate shelter for all; enablement and participation; government policy; ensuring a sustainable housing and urbanisation process; financial crisis and selling off homes for debt; build together; possibility of a National Housing Subsidy Scheme; Infrastructure available for development of housing projects. – Health: duty on the state to take measures within available resources to achieve progressive realisation of the right to health. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; services provided by health workers; specific impact of HIV and health care to HIV positive patients; cost of medical care; – Education: Article 20 of the Namibian constitution – Education; primary education should be compulsory – enforcing this obligation effectively; compulsory to complete primary education; free education; gap between schools in rural areas and ones in cosmopolitan areas; access to technical education; equal access to higher education; drop-outs who did not pass grade 10 and 12; upgrading of inferior and unequal infrastructure eg. shortages of classrooms; buildings in state of disrepair; inadequate toilet facilities; no access to technology and scientific facilities; – Water: Basic human need; Access to water; creation of a basic human need reserve; ownership of water; ensuring quality of water; water sanitation; cost of water; – Rights of Children and Young people: Article 15 of the Namibian Constitution – Children’s rights; social responsibility towards children including Aids orphans; education; adoptions; placing of children in care; street children; the place of a family advocate (like in South Africa) in Namibia; Right to food and health; early childhood development; the “children having children” syndrome; rights of fathers of children born out of wedlock; maintenance laws; impact of violence in the family; right to a family; (Article 14 of the Namibian Constitution); Children’s’ rights education; – Environment: in terms of article 95 (l) of the Namibian Constitution, the State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following ….. (l) maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and in future; in particular, the Government shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory. The link between environmental protection and development, the role of the private and public sector in the eradication of poverty, public awareness of environmental protection, the right to a clean and healthy environment