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By: Justicia Shipena 

United Nations Namibian resident coordinator Sen Pang said that the covid-19 pandemic curtailed a wide range of fundamental human rights for many. 

Pang said this during the celebration of Human Rights Day under the theme’ Equality – reducing inequalities, advancing human rights on 10 December 2021. 

“These rights range from the right to leave our home or to shop for groceries to the right to travel or meet with family and friends,” he said. 

He said that in celebrating human rights, people are reminded of how the covid pandemic has exhaust-rated the vulnerability of the least protected and most marginalised societies.

He added that the ongoing crisis had put human rights under extra pressure.  

“While dealing with this new variant omicron, we have a duty to ensure that all responses to the pandemic are showed by respecting human rights.”

He believes individuals share the responsibility to uphold human rights. 

“Let’s not lose sight of the progress in human rights that we have achieved in our continent.” 

Pang stated that it is vital to be aware of the state of Namibia and take a step to fight against what is wrong for human rights to be intact. 

“Let’s us stand up for human rights for everyone and everywhere,” he said. 

One of the fundamental human rights is access to education which has been hindered due to Covid-19. 

UNICEF chief of communication, Judy Matjila, said the disruption of school closure amidst Covid-19 resulted in over a billion students being affected globally. 

Matjila said according to Namibia’s ministry of education, about 800 children from primary to secondary school were affected during the lockdown in March last year. 

“Measures were put in place last year to ensure that children continue learning.” 

She added that some children did not have an opportunity to return to schools.

“In any pandemic crisis, there are those that fall through the cracks, and we come to the end of the year, we recognise that there is still more that needs to be done.” 

On Friday, President Hage Geingob called on Namibians to uphold and respect the rule of law and embrace the principles of Equality. 

“This year’s theme calls on us all to unite and promote equality where all members of society feel valued, equal and respected regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, class, religion or political affiliation,” said Geingob. 

He added that citizens should continue embracing multilateralism to find lasting solutions to the human race’s common threats. 

Human rights activist Linda Baumann said there is an intersection of relations to one being a human living in an environment that requires respect for others. 

“As Namibians, the freedom that we have acquired comes from the inequalities and injustices that we have experienced, thus the adoption of the Bill of Rights.” 

Baumann said the bill reminds Namibians that they have a responsibility. 

“Your rights come with a limitation. When you stretch your arm, that’s when your rights end, and that’s where the responsibilities come in,” she said. 

She added that a number of people don’t understand how rights work. 

Baumann also stated that human rights violations continue to be experienced. 

“But there has been a lot of growth in ensuring that human rights violation nationally is curbed.” 

However, Baumann said looking at women rights violations, Namibia has made great strides in achieving gender equality in realising women’s civil rights. 

“That speaks broadly to how Namibia is committed to ensuring 50/50 for gender equality is attained,” she said.

Furthermore, Baumann said women rights violations also continue to be experienced by default skin colour and economic and relationship status. 

“This is why over the year that sexual and gender-based violence continues to be a big problem for us as a country.” 

She expressed that Namibia needs to continue to advance bodily autonomy and sexual rights. 

Human Rights Day is observed every 10 December. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a document that proclaims the rights everyone is entitled to. The document is available in 500 languages. It is the most translated document in the world.  

Justicia Shipena

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