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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                      

Republic of Namibia

Inmates accused wardens of assault at Windhoek and Oluno correctional facilities during the year.

Namibia currently lacks an antitorture law.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: Namibia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Namibia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Namibia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 July 2021]


Physical Conditions: Conditions in detention centers and police holding cells remained poor. Conditions were often worse in pretrial holding cells than in prisons. Human rights bodies and government officials reported overcrowding in holding cells. Most prisons, however, were not overcrowded.

In pretrial holding cells, sanitation and medical assistance were inadequate. Tuberculosis was prevalent.


Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention remained a problem. According to the Namibian Correctional Service, approximately 3 percent of the inmate population is in pretrial detention, and the average length of time inmates are held before trial is four years.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Namibia is free from war and insurgencies. However, police brutality is a problem. Police abuses were reported during land disputes in Walvis Bay in May 2017, and Grootfontein in February. Inmates accused wardens of assault at Windhoek and Oluno correctional facilities during the year; officials from the Ombudsman’s office went to investigate some of these cases. Namibia currently lacks an antitorture law.

Policing and Human Rights -- Assessing southern African countries’ compliance with the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for Police Officials

Edited by Amanda Dissel & Cheryl Frank, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum APCOF, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-920489-81-6

[accessed 25 March 2014]


No police official shall, under any circumstances, inflict, instigate, or tolerate any act of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any person.

Namibia acceded to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Punishment (UNCAT) on 28 November 1994. Torture and other ill-treatment is prohibited in terms of article 8(2)(b), and is non-derogable under article 24(3) of the Constitution. Following submission of the first state report to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) in 1995, the Committee noted concern that although torture and physical assaults by the Namibian police had reduced since independence, treatment which falls under this category continues to exist. It also noted a failure by the state to promptly and impartially investigate and prosecute those responsible for acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and for failing to institute disciplinary proceedings against responsible public officials.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. A/52/44, paras. 227-252 (1997)

[accessed 4 March 2013]

4. Subjects of concern

235. The Committee is concerned that Namibia has not integrated, as required by articles 2 (1) and 4 (1) of the Convention, the specific definition of the crime of torture into its penal legislation in terms legally consistent with the definition contained in article 1 of the Convention. In the absence of a strict legal definition of torture and other offences and of a precise description of appropriate and corresponding punishment for torture and other offences, it is impossible for the Namibian courts to adhere to the principle of legality (nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege previa) and to article 4 of the Convention.

236. The Committee is also concerned about the alleged cases of torture referred to specifically during the discussion of the State party's report.

237. The Committee deeply regrets that in many cases, because of the lack of judicial personnel, pre-trial detention extends for up to one year.

238. The Committee is concerned that although torture and physical assaults by the Namibian police have been reduced considerably since independence, treatment which falls under the category of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment still occurs in certain areas of the country.

239. The Committee is also concerned at the State party's failure in many cases to promptly and impartially investigate and prosecute those responsible for past and present acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Namibia also fails to institute consistently disciplinary proceedings against public officials responsible for acts of torture or ill-treatment.

240. The Committee expresses concern that there are no legal instruments to deal specifically with compensating victims of torture or other ill-treatment. The existing procedures for obtaining redress, compensation and rehabilitation seem to be inadequate and in many cases ineffective. Moreover, they limit the right to redress and compensation to the victim of torture, failing to give, in accordance with article 14 (1) of the Convention, the same standing to the deceased victim's dependants.

Namibia: police torture alleged

AAP-Reuter, Geneva,10347473

[accessed 5 Feb 2014]

South African police had used "most cruel and degrading torture" on people arrested in Namibia, a UN report said yesterday.

It complained that prisoners in the "condemned section" of Pretoria Central Prison lived in inhuman conditions.

The report said it believed that the death of a number of non-white people in suspicious circumstances in South African police stations had been the result of police torture.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

PRISON CONDITIONS - Most prisons and detention centres remained overcrowded, with some holding more than twice the intended number. Windhoek Central Prison, which was designed to hold 912 inmates, contained approximately 2,000 inmates and pre-trial detainees. Similar conditions prevailed in Ondangwa, Swakopmund, Oshakati and Otjiwarango towns.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 9 January 2019]

Scroll Down


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 2   Civil Liberties: 2   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 6 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Allegations of police brutality persist. Human rights groups have called for independent investigations into the 1999 arrest and detention of suspected Caprivi separatists and the deaths of 13 suspects in custody. Victims of alleged police torture and abuse in the aftermath of the Caprivi uprising have brought damages claims against the government; all claims have been settled out of court. Conditions in prisons and military detention facilities are quite harsh. In 2007, a High Court judge declared conditions in police holding cells to be “plainly unconstitutional. ”Focusing on the deplorable health and sanitary conditions in police cells, another judge in 2007 maintained that authorities could be held liable for violating detainees’ constitutional rights if conditions are not improved.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 6 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The constitution and law prohibit such practices; however, police frequently used excessive force, including torture, when apprehending, interrogating, and detaining criminal suspects. Despite a police directive that prohibited the use of sjamboks (heavy leather whips), security forces continued to use them. The government took action against some perpetrators.

Suspects in the Caprivi treason trial complained of intimidation and humiliation while in detention.

On May 2, police sergeant Sakeus Amuele and three civilians Mutilifia Keeleleni, Andreas Nghiwhekwa, and Nakanyala Akuunda were arrested and charged with assault and kidnapping after they allegedly chained and beat Hofenie Angomo Ikolola with sjamboks at a village near Ondangwa to force him to confess to housebreaking and theft. The case was ongoing at year's end.

During the year two ethnic Mafwe claimed that their testimony in the Caprivi treason trial was made under duress (see below and section 1.e.).

On February 24, the court postponed the case against police officers Geoffrey Scott, Willem Dax, and Dawid Fy, who in July 2005 allegedly tortured Ralph Cloete, a suspected thief.

There were no developments in the January 2005 cases of Elihana Nghimwenas and Pakratius Kawana, who respectively filed civil complaints against the police for torture.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Namibia",, [accessed <date>]