First step victory: court cases get the go-ahead!

There’s great news for the court case — following argument over a technicality, the High Court of Namibia has ruled that the cases can proceed. This press release was issued by the Legal Assistance Centre yesterday:

PRESS RELEASE:

The High Court today agreed with the Legal Assistance Centre that the Public Service Act does not apply to the forced sterilisation cases, in which the LAC is representing several women suing the Government of Namibia for damages. Earlier, the Government raised a legal point that the LAC’s clients did not comply with the Public Service Act of 1995, which requires that a person wishing to institute legal action against the Government, must do so within 12 month of the action arising and only after written notice of one month has been given to the Government.

The LAC argued that the Public Service Act does not apply as that law only regulates the employment affairs of the public servants, and not to delictual or contractual disputes of non-public servants against the Government. As a result, no such notice was given, and in some of the cases, the legal action was only instituted after 12 months after the sterilisation was done.

The High Court, in a judgment of today, agreed with the LAC’s arguments. The cases will now continue on the merits on whether or not the clients – all women who are HIV positive – were unlawfully sterilized without their consent when they were in labour. The women are each suing the Government for over N$1 million in damages.

Please, take note that the clients have obtained an order from the High Court that their identities should not be revealed as they fear further discrimination and stigmatisation because of their HIV status.

NORMAN TJOMBE

DIRECTOR

LEGAL ASSISTANCE CENTRE

16 December 2009

Advertisements

What now?

Women and baby marching for an end to forced sterilization

Women and baby marching for an end to forced sterilization

As we have already noted, the case has been postponed until 24 November. In November the lawyers will be arguing about a specific legal matter. Namely, the government is claiming that according to a specific law, the Public Services Act, anyone suing the government has to bring their case to court within a year of the action happening. So in our case they are saying that the women had to file their case in court within a year of having been sterilized. But we are saying that that only applies to public employees suing the government and not to people alleging human rights and constitutional violations. And that for cases like ours we should have three years to bring the case. I know this sounds like legal technicalities but this has tremendous implications for not only our case but for anyone in Namibia who wants to hold the government to account for violating their human and constitutional rights.

Despite the delay in the case, we are going to continue with raising the issue and our campaign to ensure that the coerced sterilization of HIV positive women ends. Keep checking back regularly as we plan further events

.

Pictures from the March

A large number of people participated in our march to Katutura Hospital this morning, to demand an end to forced sterilisations of HIV positive women.

Carrying the banner on the way to Katutura Hospital

Carrying the banner on the way to Katutura Hospital

Veronica Kalambi spoke at the press conference at the High Court

Veronica Kalambi spoke at the press conference at the High Court

You can see more photos here: Check out the pictures from the march here.

March and case to start today

The case of three HIV positive women who were allegedly sterilized without their consent at public hospitals in Namibia is scheduled to start in the Namibian High Court this morning.  The cases are currently to end on the 23 October.  It is unclear whether the case will in fact start this morning but we will keep you updated.

Before the case starts, the campaign has organized a march.  The details can be found here.

Press release: March tomorrow

Press Statement
Embargoed for 19 October 2005
Windhoek, October 19 2005

On 20 October, concerned citizens and civil society organisations in Windhoek marched together in protest of the alleged sterilisation of women living with HIV in public health facilities in Namibia. In 2007, reports emerged that women living with HIV, seeking reproductive health services, were allegedly subjected to sterilisation without their full and informed consent in public health facilities in two of the thirteen regions of Namibia.

The march is a component of the “End Forced Sterilisation!”, campaign which aims to raise public awareness of this gross violation of human rights and seek redress for the affected women. It is also a call to the Namibian government to immediately stop the practise of the alleged sterilisation of women living with HIV without their full and informed consent.

Continue reading