Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected these rights. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of speech and press. Government and party leaders, however, at times criticized the press.
Press and Media Freedoms: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.
Violence and Harassment: On April 15, authorities detained and questioned two journalists working for a Japanese television station investigating ties between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Namibia at Hosea Kutako International Airport outside Windhoek. Authorities released them after searching their luggage and confiscating two laptops and three cameras. The journalists claimed they were detained because Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, deputy prime minister and minister of international relations and cooperation, was upset by questions they asked during an interview with her a few hours earlier. The journalists were allowed to depart the country the same day. On April 19, a police spokesperson was quoted in media as justifying the temporary detention of the two journalists and the confiscation of their equipment because the journalists “might have captured material that could hamper national safety.” In an April 20 speech in parliament, Tjekero Tweya, minister of information and communication technology, alleged the journalists misused their filming permit by invading the privacy of showering North Korean construction workers at a military base. Tweya also said the journalists “compromised the security of a sovereign state.” Authorities eventually returned the journalists’ confiscated equipment to the Japanese embassy in Windhoek.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: There were reports journalists working for state-owned media practiced self-censorship in favor of the government and Swapo.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports the government monitored private online communication without appropriate legal authority. The law allows the intelligence services to monitor e-mails and internet usage with authorization from any magistrate. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 22.31 percent of individuals used the internet in 2015, while a 2014 study by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology found the rate of internet usage was 40 percent. The discrepancy may be due to the latter taking greater account of internet usage from mobile platforms.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS
Regulations published in 2013 make it illegal to conduct research in the country–whether publicly or privately funded–without authorization from the government-appointed National Commission on Research, Science, and Technology. The regulation defines “research” so broadly it could be construed to cover investigative work by lawyers, doctors, journalists, and students. Conviction of violations of the regulations is punishable by five years’ imprisonment or fines of N$20,000 ($1,440) and an indefinite ban on conducting research in the country. In March 2015 the LAC filed a constitutional challenge to the regulations. The challenge was scheduled for consideration in January 2017.
The constitution and law provide for the freedoms of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights. Government institutions of higher learning, including the University of Namibia and the Namibian University of Science and Technology, however, continued to ban activities by political organizations on campus.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: The government cooperated with UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, or other persons of concern.
PROTECTION OF REFUGEES
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has an established system for providing protection to refugees.
Refugees were required to live at the government’s Osire refugee settlement. The government cooperated with the NGO Africa Humanitarian Action to provide food, shelter, water, and sanitation at the settlement. The government continued to issue identification cards and exit permits allowing refugees to leave the settlement to travel to a specified place for a limited period. The government maintained strict control over civilian access to the Osire refugee settlement but provided regular unrestricted access to the ICRC, UNHCR, and UNHCR’s NGO partners.
Refoulement: In 2015 UNHCR received a report authorities denied asylum to three male applicants from Burundi and sent them back to Burundi. UNHCR negotiated with the government for their return, but there was no resolution by year’s end.
Employment: The government maintained restrictive measures on refugees’ ability to work, stating it was seeking to protect the jobs of citizens. Refugees wishing to work outside Osire Camp were required to seek government permission and work permits.
Durable Solutions: Between 2014 and 2015, the government issued permanent residence permits to 123 of 476 former refugee families that were unwilling to repatriate to Angola. UNHCR paid the fees associated with the permits and requested the government waive fees for the remaining families, but at year’s end the permits had yet to be issued.