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Staff Writer

PDM leader McHenry Venaani said the suggested genocide agreement between Germany and Namibia is fundamentally flawed in numerous aspects.

Venaani said the €1.1 billion that is being offered to the affected communities by the German government, is equivalent to the amount that the German government has donated to the Namibian government in foreign aid since independence.

Making his contribution on the genocide debate in the National Assembly in Tuesday, Venaani said while the agreement affirms the provision under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, it fails to deal with the consequences of such a violation of law.

The opposition leader said Germany engages in its own political correctness by offering ‘reconciliation and reconstruction’.

“Through this careful manipulation of words, the German government wishes to evade its responsibility under International Law,” Venaani said.

He added that the late admission and recognition by Germany that the events of 1904 to 1908 were a genocide is truly not genuine, but half-baked, just to get out of a very sticky situation.

According to Venaani, one cannot admit to a crime but refuse to accept the consequences even under international law.

“It is clear to us that the German government uses the words ‘reconciliation and reconstruction’ rather than ‘reparations’ in the suggested agreement for a purpose, which the Namibian government did not grasp,” he further said.

Venaani said it is a general principle of public international law that any wrongful act that a violation of an obligation under international law gives rise to an obligation to right the wrong.

This, he said, is understood under the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

By accepting the word ‘reparations’, Venaani said, Germany would be expected to atone to the two affected communities at greater costs.

In the Factory at Chorzow case in 1928, the then Permanent Court of Justice (PCIJ) was very clear on what constitutes proper reparations, he also said.

“The Court ruled that ‘…reparation must, as far as possible, wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act and re-establish the situation which would, in all probability, have existed if that act had not been committed’,” he cited.

According to the PCIJ, restitution in kind, or, if this is not possible, payment of a sum corresponding to the value which a restitution would bear (…) such are the principles which should serve to determine the amount of compensation due for an act contrary to international law committed. Venaani said restitution includes the return of wrongly seized property, while reparations seek to bring about some measure of restorative justice, with compensation being the monetary payment for financially assessable damage arising from the violation that covers material and moral injury.

According to the Principle 23 of the draft Basic Principles and Guidelines, compensation should be provided for any economically assessable damage, such as physical or mental harm, including pain, suffering and emotional distress; lost opportunities, including education; material damages and loss of earnings, including loss of earning potential; harm to reputation or dignity; and costs required for legal or expert assistance, medicines and medical services, and psychological and social services.


Venaani proposed that parliament as an institution has therefore a special and key role any reconciliation process in a country, especially when in the national debating chamber there exist varying views, interests and concerns.

He said if a parliament’s membership is truly representative of the country’s population, the decisions taken by parliamentarians in respect of genocide agreements would be endorsed by the people as its democratically elected representatives bearing their best interests.

It is, therefore, he said, perplexing to observe that this House has had such a diminished role when it came to engaging on the genocide debate.

“For this reason, we propose not only that the government re-negotiates the terms of the whole genocide agreement, but also allows the parliament its rightful duty and responsibility to robustly contribute to the negotiations. For this we need to reinforce a stronger parliamentary role going forward,” he said.

Venaani also proposed that the government must engage with the representatives of the affected communities both at home and in the Diaspora.




Staff Writer

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