Namibia urged to fulfill promises of independence to its indigenous people

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A family of the Ovahimbo Tribe in Namibia

Namibia is being urged to "step up efforts to address problems of landlessness and land insecurity of its indigenous people and do so, to the extent compatible with the rights of others, in accordance with their historical or traditional land tenure patterns".

The call has come from UN Expert on Indigenous Rights James Anaya, who noted that Namibia "is a country rich with diverse indigenous cultural and ethnic identities, including those of indigenous peoples that have suffered marginalization in various aspects of life".

He called on the Government to strengthen measures to ensure that minority indigenous peoples can survive with their cultures intact in the fullest sense, including in regard to their traditional lands, authorities, and languages.

The human rights expert also urged action to tackle the under-representation of indigenous peoples that are ethnically distinct from the majority tribes in decision-making at local and national levels.

Mr. Anaya said "Since Namibia's independence in 1990, the Government has made many significant achievements in rolling back some of the destructive legacies left by colonialism and apartheid". But, he warned that the pervasive loss of land and resources by indigenous groups during colonialism and apartheid has not been overcome. He said "By all accounts, indigenous San groups in the country have experienced the greatest loss and resultant social, economic and cultural disruption".

The UN human rights expert said that today, San people use and occupy lands in Namibia under several different kinds of arrangements, with varying levels of security and control, "none of which are wholly adequate and without problems".

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’33″

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