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Ombudsman recommendations led to closure of some police holding cells

By: Selma Taapopi

Ombudsman Basilius Dyakugha said his office has recommended the closure of anumber of police holding cells countrywide after an inspection revealed that some cells were in a deplorable state. The Outapi police holding cells are amongst those closed after the Ombudsman’s intervention. Advocate Dyakugha handed over the Ombudsman 2021/22 annual report to the National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi last month, which highlighted the condition of police cells in the country.

According to the report, some places of detentions were, amongst others , overcrowded and in need of renovations.

Speaking at a media briefing today after a year in office, Dyakugha underscored the unfavourable conditions of the cells countrywide. He stated that visits to the Ondangwa and Katima Mulilo police stations in June this year showed deplorable conditions stating that the human rights of inmates and employees are not respected.

"The police holding cells' conditions are not that good. Many of them are actually very bad and I can testify to you today that some of the police stations, I don't have the names now, have been closed because of the recommendations of this office," stated Dyakugha.

Dyakugha also added that he was not pleased with the condition of the kitchen at the Ondangwa police holding cells. As a result, he wrote a letter to the Namibian Police Inspector-General, the Oshana regional leadership including the governor and the mayor to find money to renovate the kitchen. "Because it is not just for the inmates but it is also for the people that are working in that environment. So the human rights aspect there is really not respected". Similarly, Dyakugha added that the Katima Mulilo police station is also in a bad state and took up the matter with the Minister of Immigration, Safety and Security. "It is really bad. I must tell you that in Katima Mulilo police station the chairs that police officers are sitting on were bought many years ago before the police officer who is sitting there was born. It's really not a good scenario" Dyakugha. Advocate Dyakugha further indicated that the office of the ombudsman is a vital institution urging Namibians to trust the office to address the public's complaints. Complaints in the Ombudsman's annual report for 2021/2022, ranged from maladministration against human resource practitioners and local authority employees to human rights violations such as access to healthcare and protracted court cases. According to the report, 84% of these complaints are resolved and 16% are unresolved.

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