5 December 2019
Freedom Under Law (FUL) views with deep concern the implications for the rule of law throughout the region of this week’s revelations of corruption at the highest levels of government in Namibia, as uncovered in the Al Jazeera documentary, Anatomy of a Bribe.
The investigation reflects ruthless misuse of one of Namibia’s important natural resources (its fishing industry is valued at yielding USD 750 million in revenue per year). Using what it presents as detailed banking and other records and hidden camera recordings of secret meetings it provides a shocking example of how corruption-enablers in the region simultaneously impoverish ordinary people, enrich themselves, and strip Africa’s natural resources.
Among those alleged to be involved are a multinational Icelandic fishing company, Namibian ministers, officials and lawyers, front companies as well as Angolan interests. FUL applauds the decisive action taken by Namibia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, its police and prosecuting authority in within days arresting and charging two Ministers of State and senior officials.
Of particular concern to FUL is the crucial enabling role also alleged to have been played by private legal practitioners in making the fraudulent and corrupt schemes possible by acting as conduits and facilitators. FUL calls upon the Namibian Law Society to follow the example of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission in without delay investigating the latter allegations. They concern the former (as Attorney General) chief law officer and thereafter Minister of Justice, as well as a senior Windhoek private law firm.
So far as FUL is aware the Namibian Law Society has yet to speak a word or take a step, except to note that it has received no formal complaint against any legal practitioner. In the face of such damning allegations against some of the most prominent members of the legal profession in Namibia that seems an entirely inadequate response. Prompt and resolute investigative and disciplinary action by the watchdog of the legal profession, protector of the public and ally of the administration of justice in Namibia, the Law Society of Namibia, is now required.