Tag Archives: human rights

More can and needs to be done to fight old age poverty – UN expert urges Namibia

WINDHOEK / GENEVA (13 March 2017) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, today commended the Namibian Government for its political determination and vision on how to improve the lives of all Namibians by 2030 and to protect their human rights”, and “urged the Government to deliver on its promises.”

I call on the Government to deploy every effort possible to finalize and put into motion the comprehensive national policy on the rights, care and protection of older people. A dedicated policy on older persons is key to ensuring improved protection of their rights,” the UN Expert said.

She also emphasized that “any policy on older persons has to adopt a human rights-based approach,” and added that the United Nations principles on older persons alongside the core human rights instruments should guide the Government’s efforts in this regard.”

Ageing in Namibia is just beginning to take shape,” the UN Expert noted. While the proportion of older persons has remained somehow constant at around 7 per cent since independence, the projected growth rate of the older population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be faster than that experienced by any other region since 1950. “The challenges associated with an ageing society are not a distant phenomenon,” the UN expert emphasized. “It will result in immense pressure on the care system as a growing number of older persons will be living with chronic diseases and disability.”

Low population density and accelerated levels of urbanization have the potential to erode the traditional family care system. Further investment by the Government in health and care infrastructure is required to provide alternatives to the older persons in rural areas.”

Care can no longer be considered simply a family matter and I call on the Government to step up its effort to revise the Aged Persons Act in order to fully provide for the rights, protection, care and welfare of older people.”

Namibia has come a long way since it gained independence only 27 years ago. It has since enjoyed political stability and steady economic growth and is ranked as an upper middle-income country,” the Independent Expert said. “We owe recognition to these Namibian achievements,” she outlined.

Despite all the efforts, Namibia continues to be among the most unequal countries in the world. “While I acknowledge that poverty levels have been brought down significantly since independence, they remain high for certain parts of the population and certain regions of the country,” the Independent Expert said.

I am also fully aware that some of the inequalities that persist are the legacy of colonial rule and that attitudes do not change overnight,” she added.This does not mean that the existing disparities in income and land distribution are acceptable, and I have to insist that more can and needs to be done to fight old age poverty.

The launching of the Action Plan towards Prosperity for All, the so-called Harambee Prosperity Plan 2016/17 – 2019/20, has a great potential to foster enjoyment by older persons of their rights as it specifically refers to the social protection for older persons and addresses key areas such as hunger, poverty, and housing.”

While the establishment and expansion of an extensive system of social grants is a significant achievement and example to follow, the universal non-contributory old age grant in many households constitutes the only income as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I acknowledge the huge positive impact of the old age grant to reducing poverty levels, while it is important to ensure that earmarked assistance reaches its intended beneficiaries.”

There are serious concerns about violence against, abuse and maltreatment of older persons and in particular older women in Namibia and there is too little discussion about it”. It is estimated that around 4 to 6 per cent of older persons have experienced some form of maltreatment at home. Poverty, inequality, substance abuse are contributing factors, but also entrenched attitudes including about corporal punishment. “The government has an obligation to tackle this as a matter of priority.”

“I would like to assure you that I heard your call for technical cooperation and capacity building. The international community has indeed an important role to play in complementing and supporting your efforts to address the challenges of an ageing society and in particular in the fight of old age poverty. I will do my utmost to encourage the international community to continue its cooperation with Namibia, including through financial and specific technical support. ”

During her ten-day visit, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte visited Windhoek, Katutura, Okahandja, as well as Rundu, Silikunga, Zone and Mpungu in the Kavango Regions and met with various Government authorities, non-governmental organizations, the academia and others working on the rights of older persons, as well as older persons themselves and their representative organizations.

The Independent Expert will present her findings and recommendations of her country visit in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

ENDS

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing. She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontificia Unversidad Católica de Chile. Learn more.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page –Namibia

Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

For further information and media requests, please contact Mr. Khaled Hassine
(+41 22 917 93 67, during the visit +41 79-444-3940, khassine@ohchr.org) or write to olderpersons@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts in Geneva:
Bryan Wilson, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 9179826/ mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online

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Holocaust Remembrance 2017: Educating for a better future

On 7 February 2017, UNIC Windhoek observed the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. High School students from Jan Mohr Secondary School, particularly those specializing in History, attended the day long event held at the United Nations House in Klein Windhoek.

UNIC Windhoek set up its annual Holocaust Exhibition in the foyer and the UN Library since 27 January, and welcomed visitors to view and reflect on this years poster set themed, the “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda”.

The students walked through the exhibit in their own time and were ushered to the venue where the UNIC team led a two learning discussion on the Holocaust. Students unpacked and brainstormed the meaning of some key phrases, such as “Human Rights,” “Genocide,” “Holocaust,” “Racism,” etc. They reported back to the group and the UNIC team were taken aback at how knowledgeable the youngsters were.

The posters were an important backdrop providing a platform for an interactive learning – the UNIC team took the group back to the exhibition and carefully guided them through each poster. Each poster provided ample opportunity for discussion and questions were jotted down for the last part of the programme. Continue reading

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Secretary-General’s Message for 2016

Attacks on journalists violate the human rights of individuals and undermine freedom of information and expression across societies. Impunity, which makes this terrible situation worse, is rampant. Of the 827 documented killings of journalists over the past decade, the information at hand shows that only 8 percent of perpetrators were held to account.

I pay tribute to the courage of all media personnel who put their lives on the line for the sake of truth. And I call for immediate action to secure justice in cases where journalists were attacked, harassed or killed.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is mobilizing all partners to implement the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Success hinges on cooperation to create a culture of freedom of expression, where those who restrict the work of journalists are sanctioned and all who attack them are punished.

Toward this end, I call on all countries to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists with concrete actions to ensure that all media personnel are guaranteed the space they need to operate free from any form of harassment or intimidation. In this way, we will strengthen public access to information, which is key to Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

Commemorative activities will be held in a variety of places around the world, including Myanmar, which will officially mark the Day for the first time as part of its transition toward democracy with discussions at the Annual Media Development Conference. In the Russian Federation, UNESCO is teaming up with the Russian Union of Journalists to examine prevailing conditions, honour those who have lost their lives and raise awareness about ending impunity. In Pakistan, UNESCO is joining with officials in a discussion focused on strengthening the safety of journalists. In Tanzania, UNESCO is working with officials to hold a workshop commemorating the Day.

I urge all countries to observe this Day, especially where journalists are under threat. Let us resolve to do all we can to contribute to a safer environment for journalists and a freer society for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participants graduate with smiles from first High School Practicum Programme 2016

DSC_0457Participants graduated on Friday, 20 May 2016 from UNIC Windhoek’s High School Practicum Programme, hosted at a local restaurant in Windhoek, Namibia.

The participants dressed up for the graduation and went with the UNIC Windhoek team to Nyama, located in the centre of Windhoek. After finding their seats at the table, Anthea Basson, the National Information Officer for UNIC Windhoek thanked the students for their hard work and dedication to the programme.

DSC_0520The graduation ceremony followed and Anthea Basson handed over the certificates to each of the participants as well as assessments about each students’ performance, skills and improvement throughout the course of the programme.

Basson noted that the first intake of students had already set the bar high for the programme, she noted with pride how much positive growth she had seen in all the students and what a remarkable transformation it has been. “I encourage you to use these and similar platforms to build on the skills and knowledge you have been exposed to over the past couple of weeks and to nurture these to become well rounded, global citizens,” she concluded. Continue reading

Practicum participants learn the global importance of human rights

DSC_0677After learning more about the United Nations, the practicum participants dived deeper into the work of the United Nations. On 5th May 2016, UNIC Windhoek explained the concept of human rights and the students researched articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The session started with an engaging video about human rights. The students were surprised to learn that the concept of human rights did not exist until Cyrus the Great and Mahatma Gandhi laid the fundamentals for these pertinent, universal rights.

DSC_0680They also began to understand the importance of ensuring human rights for all people as they saw images of human suffering and as they found out violations of human rights here in Namibia. The students were in disbelief after hearing that one out of three children are poor; one out of four children suffers from abuse and one out of seven children do not have proper shelter in Namibia. Continue reading

Information sharing with local media

 

media packOn 4 February 2016, UNIC Windhoek prepared media packs for all Editors in an effort to ensure that local media remain informed and have access to all information material disseminated by the Department of Public Information.

The pack includes the publication “Politically Speaking: 2015 in Review” as well as copies of the “Year in Review 2015” video. UNIC Windhoek included UNIC branded pens, the UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and information letter to all editors. The local media remain valuable partners to the work of the Centre and the UN at large. Continue reading