NAMPOL Imposed Conditions on CCG public meeting
12 October 2014
We would like to inform the public that the Namibian Police Inspector General, Sabastian Ndeitunga, imposed conditions on Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) public meeting which was scheduled on to take place on 12 October 2014 at Nampengu village. These conditions were served by the Caprivi Nampol Regional Commander, Comm. Boniface Mukendwa, to CCG on Friday 10 October 2014 in a form of a written document but without a letterhead, date stamp and full names of the Inspector or the officer who only signed on every page of the document.
The Inspector claims, in the document, that he “has reason to believe that the planned gathering may threaten public order; cause feelings of hostility between different sections of the population or may compel any person to abstain from doing an act which such person is legally entitled to do, should he not invoke the powers vested in him by section 3 (1) of the Public Gatherings Proclamation, AG 23 of 1989.”
At least twelve (12) “conditions of public gathering” from the Namibian Police Inspector were outlined. They include amongst other conditions, the following:
- There will be appropriate Namibian Police Force presence at the appointed location during 08h00 to 17h00 to maintain law and order.
- No organizer, speaker or other participant in the meeting shall make any utterances that are subversive to the authority of the Government of the Republic of Namibia.
- No organizer, speaker or other participant in the meeting shall make any utterances that would be in violation of the Criminal Laws of the Republic of Namibia.
Indeed, in accordance with these conditions, there were seven police officers at the meeting who were not in uniform. In fact, we requested the regional commander not to send police force members in uniform and he accepted. What remains unknown for now is whether or not in our discussions at the meeting we violated some of the conditions which are of course vague to us.
These conditions were only applicable or specific for Nampengu and the date specified in the document which is 12 October. However, we are happy that there was no violence, intimidations or personal attacks on any person, not even on Evans Simasiku (Head of Caprivi High Treason Unit) who was among the crowd. Indeed we proved that we are really a peaceful organization and our people too are very peaceful because Evans is a key suspect in crimes of torture, killings of Caprivians and is aware of the mass grave of seven Caprivians which is unknown to the families and the public. If we can be at the same gathering with this man without physically attacking him, who then in Caprivi would we ever attack? Believe us or not, we are leading a peaceful organization and peaceful people fighting peacefully for a peaceful political solution.
CCG believes that some of these conditions are beyond the power provided to Police by section 3 (1) of the said proclamation. The section does not spell out or empower the Police to interfere with or to limit the extent of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Namibian constitution. The Constitution of Namibia clearly states in Article 21 that restrictions on fundamental freedoms must be imposed by law. The absence of a constitutional reference, a law, or a court order makes us to believe that some of these conditions are illegal and vulnerable.
The aim and necessity of all the conditions is not clear to us. There is no reference of (or to) a public meeting where a specific law of the country was violated by CCG in the before these conditions, since the meeting at Nampengu was not the first. These strange conditions established suspicion in us that perhaps the Inspector General intends to shield the Namibian government from reasonable criticism and also to stop public discussions on matters of public concern.
Thirdly, some of the conditions do not meet standards of clarity and precision. It is not clearly stated as to what utterances may constitute or be construed as subversive to the Namibian government or violates Criminal Laws of Namibia, for example. This creates a “chilling effect” where speakers or other participants at the public meeting may not openly discuss issues in fear of violating the stipulated conditions when in deed they would not violate such conditions. We hope that such conditions were not intended to prevent public discussion of legal and historical issues of public interest.
It is against this background that we advise the Inspector General that next time he should clarify legal basis or source of authority to limit fundamental freedoms provided in Article 21 of the Namibian constitution; clarify the aim and necessity of conditions, and also clarity on what would be construed as subversive utterances against the Namibian government if conditions pertaining to what not to say (the utterances) will be part of such conditions.
Caprivi Concerned Group