Namibia

Judge & applicant instructed same legal counsel: grounds for recusal?

In this most unusual set of circumstances, a Namibian acting judge, while still in his permanent post as principal magistrate, needed to bring an insurance claim. His insurance company sent formal instructions to counsel. Now, as acting judge, he has an applicant before him represented by the same counsel. Are these good grounds for the applicant’s recusal application?

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At first the official summary, provided at the top of all Namibian judgments, had me confused. It referred throughout to ‘I’ and ‘my’, something I had not seen before. Why was the judge featuring himself in the summary? Given my confusion, it was reassuring to find that even the judge concerned said there had been a ‘rather uncommon approach’ in this case.

Concern over impact of Botswana's appeal decision on 'refugees'

When Botswana’s Court of Appeal delivered its recent decision on 709 people from Caprivi, living in the Dukwi refugee camp, the judgment came as a serious blow to the hopes of the refugees. It has also raised questions by the refugees and their supporters, local and international, about whether the court was correct in its approach. Less theoretically, the refugees are deeply concerned about the dangers that they believe await them once they are returned to Caprivi, something that now seems inevitable - as well as the impact on their children's education.

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During the late 1990s, the Caprivi area in Northern Namibia exploded into violence. Caprivi, a narrow tongue of land stretching from Namibia across the northern border of Botswana, also adjoins the borders of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Tiny, remote Namibian clan claims world renowed Etosha National Park as ancestral land

Perhaps they didn’t realise it, but when eight members of Namibia’s Hai||om people went to court for what they claimed was their traditional land, they raised a number of other burning socio-political issues as well. The Hai||om live in a remote northern area of Namibia, overlapping the pristine Etosha National Park, environmentally sensitive and a major world tourist attraction for the country. Could the eight litigants claim the entire park as ancestral land, acting in a representative capacity for all the Hai||om people?

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The eight applicants wanted the court to agree that they could represent the minority Hai||om people. That established, they wanted to claim the entire world-famous Etosha National Park – all 23,150 sq kms of it – together with other significant tracts of land. They said this was their ancestral land, and they were being prevented from using it. Failing return of the land, they wanted compensation in land or money.

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