Parliamentarians have a role to protect human rights – Katjavivi
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Prof. Peter Katjavivi supports the notion that Parliamentarians should be at the forefront in raising the alarm and taking action when serious human rights challenges arise.
Katjavivi addressing 700 MPs from 138 countries at the 135th IPU Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this week, highlighted the role of parliaments as early responders to human rights abuses.
According to Katjavivi, in countries where there has been lawlessness, Parliaments have often offered the only source of hope for the masses. He added that civil society and the media are very important partners to legislators in exposing human rights abuses.
“We should therefore team up to ensure that the rule of law prevails and build long lasting institutions and systems in our various countries and regions,” he added.
“As Parliamentarians, we have a duty and obligation to promote good governance to prevent or preempt conflict but also to serve as arbitrators when conflict does arise,” he said.
Furthermore, he said no country is immune to human rights violations. “ Across the world, marginalization, political exclusion, religious intolerance, poverty, and undue restrictions to fundamental freedoms such as the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, are prevalent,” he told his audience of parliamentarians.
According to Katjavivi, failure to address human rights abuses runs counter to national and international obligations, and creates a breeding ground for conflict if abuses become more widespread.
The IPU Assembly will cover many additional issues during the next five days.
These include the UN response to allegations of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, the role of parliament in preventing outside interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and the role of Members of Parliament to counter the activities of vulture funds.
It will also look at the promotion of enhanced international cooperation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the freedom of women to participate fully in political processes without interference, and the need to build partnerships between men and women to achieve this objective.
Katjivivi was accompanied by Members of both Houses of Parliament that include Hon. Mensah-Williams (Chairperson of the National Council and the Chairperson of the IPU Women Parliamentarians), Hon. Dienda, Hon. Haingura, Hon. Kandumbu (Deputy Chairperson of the IPU Namibia Branch), Hon. Katamelo (Chairperson of the IPU Namibia Branch) and Hon. Kavara.