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Namibia

https://www.idea.int/democracytracker/

July 2023

Namibian legislators approve anti-gay marriage bills overriding Supreme Court ruling
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In July, majorities in both houses of Namibia’s parliament voted in favour of two bills purporting to override a ruling from the country’s Supreme Court in May 2023 that recognised same-sex marriages performed abroad. The draft legislation prohibits same-sex marriage, including those conducted abroad, by defining ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ in heterosexual terms and by criminalising the solemnisation, participation in, promotion, or advertisement of same-sex marriage in Namibia. Both bills were introduced in the National Assembly (the lower house) on 7 July as private members bills by a member of the governing SWAPO Party, before being passed by the Assembly on 12 July and the National Council (the upper house) on 19 July. Before becoming law, the bills will need to be approved once more by the National Assembly and signed by Namibia’s President. The speed of the legislative process was criticised by the country’s Ombudsman, who said that it prevented the necessary public scrutiny. Legal experts have also questioned the constitutionality of the bills.      

Sources: Marriage Amendment Private Members Bill, Definition of Spouse Private Members Bill, International IDEA, The Namibian (1), The Namibian (2), The Namibian (3)Southern Africa Litigation Centre             

May 2023

Supreme Court recognises same-sex marriages performed abroad

In a judgement delivered on 16 May, the Namibian Supreme Court ruled that the state must, for the purposes of immigration, recognise same-sex marriages validly concluded abroad between a Namibian and a non-citizen. It found that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration’s denial of residency permits to foreign spouses in two such marriages, violated the couples’ constitutional right to equality and dignity. The ruling makes Namibia the second African country, after South Africa, to recognise foreign same-sex marriages. However, the law in Namibia prevents same-sex couples from entering marriages and civil-partnerships and criminalises same-sex activity within the country. 

Sources: Namibian Supreme Court Judgement, Human Rights Watch, Voice of America

March 2023

First female judges appointed to Namibia’s supreme court

For the first time since its independence in 1990, Namibia has appointed female judges to serve on its supreme court. Lady Justice Rita Makarau, Lady Justice Johanna Prinsloo, and Lady Justice Esi Schimming-Chase will serve as temporary, Acting Supreme Court Judges from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. Three male Acting Supreme Court Judges were appointed to serve one-year terms in January 2023. Under the Namibian constitution, Acting Judges can be appointed to the Supreme Court to fill casual vacancies or on an ad hoc basis where their expertise is required by a particular case. The small number of permanent Supreme Court Judges (presently four) and case backlogs have meant that there has been a significant demand for Acting Judges. The appointments were welcomed by gender equality activists in Namibia as the shattering of ‘a huge glass ceiling.’ However, the country’s Minister of Justice, Yvonne Dausab, cautioned that more needed to be done to transform the leadership of Nambia’s senior courts, which she said remained male-dominated.

Sources: Judicial Service Commission, Voice of AmericaNamibia Daily News, Namibian Government Gazette, Constitute Project, Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative, Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, Ministry of Justice, Namibia Equal Rights Movement      

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GSoD Indices Data 2013-2022

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Basic Information

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Population Tooltip
2 587 340
System of government
Presidential system
Head of government
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa (since 2015)
Head of government party
SWAPO Party of Namibia
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
List Proportional Representation
Women in lower or single chamber
50.0%
Women in upper chamber
14.3%
Last legislative election
2019
Effective number of political parties Tooltip
2.17
Head of state
President Nangolo Mbumba
Selection process for head of state
Direct election (two-round majority)
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
03/05/2021
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
80.92%
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Human Rights Treaties

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State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State Party
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
State Party
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
State Party
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
State Party
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
No Action
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
State Party
International Labour Organisation Treaties
Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
State Party
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
State Party
Equal Remuneration Convention
State Party
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
State Party
Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment
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Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
State Party
Regional Treaties
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
State Party
in
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Performance by category over the last 6 months

Representation neutral Representation
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Representation neutral Rule of law
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Representation neutral Participation
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Global State of Democracy Indices

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Explore the indices
Representation
Representation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
Rule of Law
0
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

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