ICJ may be a window of opportunity for Ovaherero and Nama genocide claim

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

The application by South Africa to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the plausible genocide of Palestinians by the Israeli government in the Gaza Strip, may open a window of opportunity for the descendants of the survivors of genocide by Imperial Germany of the Ovaherero and Nama.

Says human rights lawyer activist, Dr John Nakuta.

Adding that this they could do by approaching President Nangolo Mbumba, who has succeeded Dr Hage Geingob, who passed on the 4th of February in the Lady Pohamba Hospital in Windhoek.

“I submit that the late President, Hage Geingob’s scathing criticisms directed at Germany for intending to join Israel provides an ideal opportunity for the main protagonists of the Ovaherero/Nama genocide cause to sit down with the new President to seriously consider the option of approaching the ICJ for an advisory opinion as noted above,” maintains Dr Nakuta.

Should the Namibian government not be willing to take their case to the ICJ which deals with only cases brought by state members to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the descendants can approach any other friendly government party to the Convention to take the matter on their behalf to the ICJ.

This is because the SA’s application has not only made the world aware of this window of opportunity but “we have seen that international solidarity is real”. Except that the ICJ has also in its verdict regarding the provisional measures which the SA pleaded for, established its independence thereby restoring trust in international justice institutions.

“The ICJ judges, to their credit demonstrated courage, impartiality, and judicial independence despite dealing with a politically sensitive and loaded issue.” Adding that the ICJ’s verdict on the measures, having established its jurisdiction in the matter “unambiguously affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

“Genocide applies when human beings, not animals, are victims – even if they are “human animals,” he characterised the attitude of the Israeli government likening such an attitude to that of the German government concerning the demand of the Ovaherero and Nama.

“These statements are reminiscent of Germany’s argument for denying liability for the genocidal acts committed against the Ovaherero and Nama people during the 1904-08 genocide,” he said.

Adding that “the Germans, as is commonly known, also invoke the intertemporal principle of international law to evade liability for her genocide acts under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The doctrine of intertemporal law is thus a formidable obstacle in achieving reparatory justice for the crime of genocide committed against the Ovaherero and Nama people.”

He stressed the need for the Ovaherero and Nama to internationalise their genocide, one such avenue for this being the ICJ.

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