The ACTION Namibia Coalition condemns the disproportionate actions used by the Namibian Police on Saturday October 10 against the #ShutItAllDown protest over the SGBV and femicide crisis in Namibia.
It is clear from the video footage of the protests that the Police acted wrongly and committed human rights abuses – ironically mostly against women who were protesting against gender-based violence. The Police response – particularly the throwing of tear gas canisters and smoke grenades and the use of excessive force, in some instances brutal, against protesters – was unacceptable.
The justified anger of the protesters is a direct result of the failure of the government and the police to protect women and prevent SGBV and femicide in Namibia over a long period of time.
We call on the President to condemn the actions of the Police and to immediately set out what government will do to protect women and prevent SGBV and femicide in Namibia. The President should also meet with the protestors to assure them that their concerns are being acted on with urgency.
We call on the Minister of Safety and Security and the Police Inspector-General to jointly institute a public inquiry into the police’s response to the protests. The aim should be to ensure Police respect human rights, improve the Police’s crowd control responses, and develop gender sensitivity training for all Police officers.
We call for the charges against the protestors to be dropped immediately. Their cause was legitimate (and one we should all back) and the protest was non-violent. The arrests were not warranted. A warning on the need to adhere to health regulations was sufficient
We call on all Namibians of good conscience – within civil society and beyond – to speak out against human rights abuses and to act to stop human rights abuses – no matter their party politics or position.
The campaign to stop SGBV and femicide should be one that unites all Namibians – inclusive of government, Police and civil society – and not be a cause for division.
ACTION Coalition secretariat
Tel: +264 61 279 603