ALTHOUGH people have the right to criticise the Namibian Judiciary, their criticism must be fair and reasonable, not false, and not with the motive or intention of bringing the courts into disrepute.
The President of the Society of Advocates of Namibia, Advocate Gerson Narib, issued an official statement in which the Society reacts strongly to statement ascribed to Bernadus Swartbooi and Ivan Skrywer of the Landless People’s Movement pursuant to the Supreme Court judgement in the matter of Itula and Four others versus the Ministry Urban and Rural Development and Twenty Eight others that was delivered on 5 February 2020.
The Society of Advocates of Namibia noted recent media reports containing statements ascribed to –
(a) Mr Bernadus Swartbooi of the Landless People’s Movement. The statements – according to the report – included inter alia that: the Namibian judiciary has been “captured by Swapo”; the Namibian judiciary is “but a captured system of the deep state that represents Swapo and was never going to order the setting aside of the presidential elections”; “the same Swapo courts … will never in the fundamental issues disappoint the masters they serve”; and that the Honourable Chief Justice “would benefit from spending time with his South African counterpart …”;
(b) Mr Ivan Skrywer of the Landless People’s Movement. The statements – according to the report – included inter alia that the Supreme Court judgment in the matter of Itula & 4 Others versus Minister of Urban and Rural Development & Twenty-Eight others, case number A1/2019, delivered on 05 February 2020, could be compared to judgments aligned to the “apartheid regime”.
“If the aforementioned reports are accurate, the statements reflect a scathing and unfounded criticism of the Judiciary, which regrettably received wide media coverage.”
According to Advocate Narib, the statements are of a most serious nature, cross the bounds of reasonable criticism of the Judiciary and are contemptuous. The statements are strongly decried by the Society.
Unjustified attacks on the Judiciary undermine the rule of law.
Advocate Narib said that persons have the right to criticise the court, but their criticism must be fair and reasonable, not false, and not with the motive or intention of bringing the courts into disrepute.
“The Judiciary has served, and will continue to serve, a pivotal role in upholding the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution and in impartially and independently administering justice – as it is constitutionally mandated to do,” Advocate Narib said.