Ovaherero lose genocide lawsuit in US Rukoro ‘disappointed’ but will appeal

WINDHOEK - The Ovaherero Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro yesterday said he is disappointed the United States District Court judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed by Ovaherero and Nama in the United States Federal Court in New York for alleged crimes against humanity.

The Ovaherero and Nama people filed a lawsuit on January 2017, suing Germany for excluding them from current negotiations between the German and Namibian governments concerning the 1904-1908 genocide committed here.

Reuters reported in the early hours of yesterday morning that a U.S. judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to require Germany to pay damages over genocide and property seizures by colonists in what is now Namibia more than a century ago.

According to the news agency, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan said Germany was immune from claims by descendants of the Herero and Nama tribes, depriving her of jurisdiction over its role in what some historians have called the 20th century's first genocide.

But, Rukoro at a press conference yesterday said Swain made some fundamental errors of law in her jurisdictional analysis and the Ovaherero and Nama people are determine to see to it that the decision by Swain is reversed on appeal and that his community claim for reparations shall proceed.

To this effect, we have directed our lawyers in New York to proceed with immediate effect, he said.

We have a just cause and our resolve is reinforced by the international support our case has enjoyed over the years from international organisation such as the UN and traditional leaders, he said.

Rukoro said traditional leaders in support of the lawsuit includes Tshekedi Khama of Botswana, DR Alfred Xuma, the President General of the ANC, who, according to him in 1947 petitioned the UN in support of the Ovaherero case against South African's scheme to annexe South West Africa.

All these success stories played against the backdrop of the extent to which Paramount Chief Hosea Kutako had internationalised our struggle for justice, our resolve to regain our ancestral land and our steadfastness to have Germany pay for her crimes against humanity, he said.

Up to 100,000 Herero and Nama are believed to have been killed by German imperial troops in the early 1900s in what was then the German colony of South-West Africa.

Meanwhile, the negotiations between the Namibian and the German governments about the genocide perpetrated in the former German colony South West Africa in 1904-1908 have just entered their third year.

The start of the negotiations in late 2015 marked a turning point after more than a century of German denialism. Successive German governments have refused to accept the atrocities as genocide.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia