Accountability in Namibia

Human Rights and the Transition to Democracy

After nearly 70 years of South African colonial rule, an armed struggle for independence began along the country’s northern border in 1966. South African military and paramilitary forces were deployed to prevent intervention from the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). During the counterinsurgency war, the South African forces committed summary executions, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and torture. In the mid 1980s, SWAPO arrested and accused its own members of spying for South Africa and detained and tortured them. Complete information regarding those held has never been released. After independence, officials from both sides linked with abuses were appointed to positions of responsibility and a full accounting has yet to take place.

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