Angola + 1 more

Namibia: Rights group cites violations

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JOHANNESBURG, 17 February (IRIN) - Amnesty International says that it is to publish a report documenting human rights abuses in Northern Namibia after the arrival of Angolan government troops in the area in December last year. The report, the first by the rights group on Namibia in ten years, could see Namibia joining Angola on Amnesty's human rights blacklist, analysts said.
Gillian Nevins, researcher with Amnesty International's secretariat in London and a member of the team which recently visited Namibia, told IRIN on Thursday that the report will document violations by all sides. Nevins said that the abuses included forced repatriation by the Namibian authorities of Angolan refugees, the conscription of Namibian children into the Angolan army, rape and extra-judicial killings.

"We heard reports about people coming from Southern Angola into Namibia, and who were transported back across the border into Angola and who were then subjected to extra-judicial trials," Nevins said. "We also heard cases where refugees coming into Namibia were separated from each other. The women and children found their way to refugee camps, but the men were never seen again," Nevins said.

Earlier this month 'The Namibian' newspaper reported that the Namibian government had handed a group of 83 suspected UNITA rebels to the Angolan army. Defence Minister Erkki Nghimtina told 'The Namibian' that the men, captured by security forces, had been turned over to Angolan army officials in the northern Namibian border town of Rundu. The newspaper quoted Nghimtina as saying, "they are not war prisoners, they are criminals who are killing people at night. They are not soldiers per se."

Nevins told IRIN that Amnesty International was "calling for further independent and impartial investigations" from both Namibia and Angola.

Meanwhile the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) chief of staff, Major General Martin Shalli, was quoted by 'The Namibian' as saying that the Amnesty allegations were "rubbish". "I don't know what they are talking about. It's all nonsense," Shalli said.

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