Ombudsman Worried About Abuse of Immigrants

THE Namibian Ombudsman and the South African public protector said they will be working together in ensuring that the mistreatment of migrants is addressed.

During talks between Ombudsman John Walters and South Africa’s public protector Thulisile Madonsela last week, the two said the abuse of immigrants on the continent was a concern. This comes after the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa that left several people dead.

Madonsela said the mistreatment of immigrants was causing instability, not only in South Africa and Africa, but in the world. “We had a painful situation in South Africa where we’ve had xenophobic outbursts and the government of South Africa acted swiftly to deal with it. Personally as a citizen and Ombudsman, I applaud government for what it has done, however, making sure it never happens again and healing the wounds is something that I think requires something more than what government has done,” she said.

Madonsela said Africans should join hands in curbing the violence and that her office and its Namibian counterpart could meet and look at what they can do to intervene in assisting governments and the world to deal with the problem of migration and how migrants are treated. “It is not just a problem of South Africa, the Mediterranean region also has very unpleasant situations,” she said. Walters said the immigration problem was one that will receive priority between his office and its South African counterpart.

Madonsela also pointed out that corruption is a big problem and in some countries it has increased. “But what gives us encouragement, is that the African Union has taken a stand for good governance, and various countries are also taking a stand against corruption. Corruption distorts and takes away resources meant for service delivery and leads to angry communities, especially young people who then gravitate to violence,” she said, adding that countries with high corruption incidences such as South Africa, Nigeria and recently Botswana, are doing all they can to mitigate the problem. Both offices also expressed concern with the implementation of policies and action in their respective countries. Madonsela said that although government was cooperating with her work, there was a serious problem with implementation of remedies after citizens complained to her office.

On his part, Walters said that Namibia provides good legislation but is slow when it comes to implementation. “I met with parliament to engage our cases with them, and one of the issues was the lack of discussion on our annual reports. We are accountable to parliament but parliamentarians do not have the time to even look what the Ombudsman is doing with the millions received from government or if we are still relevant,” said Walters.

He said there was a need to educate the public on fundamental human rights, starting with educating children at a tender age. “I could not find a country where human rights studies is part of a school curriculum. It is being introduced through some subjects like life skills but in a very watered-down approach. He said only once the public is properly educated on human rights will it be able to tolerate and respect these rights, especially human rights violations against women. “Namibia prides itself in the peace and stability the country enjoys, but in fact, Namibia is a violent country. Look at the number of murders and cases of rape. Can we still say we are a country of peace?” he asked. Madonsela who was in the country last week on her second visit to Namibia for a women’s conference on leadership, said she will continue working with the Ombudsman.

Source : The Namibian