NMT condemns heavy-handed actions of the Police Special Field Force against demonstrating students
The Namibia Media Trust (NMT) condemns the heavy-handed actions of the Police Special Field Force against students demonstrating under the banner of the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) in Windhoek on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. The youth were protesting the non-payment of tertiary education fees by the Namibia students financial assistance fund (NSFAF).
Although police claim they used ‘minimum force’, we do not consider the use of teargas and rubber bullets to disperse students from Government Park, as in keeping with the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of Namibians to exercise freedom of speech and to protest and assemble peacefully.
The NMT is concerned with promoting the right to free speech which is a necessary precondition to the enjoyment of other rights, such as the right to vote, free assembly and freedom of association. Freedom of association and the right to peaceful assembly are non-negotiables in our democracy. The chain of events on August 8, 2018 served to impede the right of students to voice their opinions on a matter that directly affects their lives and livelihoods.
We call upon law enforcement in general to respect the rights of Namibians as guaranteed by the Constitution, and to refrain from such forceful and intimidatory tactics against those taking part in peaceful public demonstrations.
Gwen Lister Zoe Titus
Executive Chairperson Strategic Coordinator