30 November 2012

Namibia: Quicker Response for Protection Orders

It takes on average 13 to15 days to serve an interim protection order on the abuser once it is made. This is according to a 2012 report by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) titled Seeking Safety.

In light of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, the Legal Assistance Centre highlighted the importance of helping victims of violence. The legal entity emphasised the critical need for better execution of protection orders. The LAC said these orders must be immediate stating that a protection order is not effective until it has been served on the abuser. "The extended time line between the time when the order is granted and the time it is served leaves many complainants vulnerable and afraid for their safety," said the LAC.

Reasons for such delays, according to the Legal Assistance Centre, include lack of available personnel to serve the interim protection orders, either the messenger of court or the police or a lack of transport and or fuel. This average time frame also masks the wide variation in service dates. It appears that many interim protection orders are not served promptly, with 40% apparently being served 10 days or more after being issued, 24% served 20 days or more late, 11% served only one month later, and a few apparently being served more than two months after being issued.

"Namibia suffers from an unacceptably high incidence of Gender Based Violence and it is appropriate that the country recognizes the importance of addressing this problem," stated the Legal Assistance Centre. The entity reiterates the government's call for zero tolerance towards Gender Based Violence and applauded the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare on the launch of the National Plan of Action on Gender Based Violence.

"Successful service is a fundamental practical aspect of the protection order procedure and therefore in need of urgent attention. At present, with such failures in the system, a call for zero tolerance to Gender Based Violence is not enough. Condemning Gender Based Violence is just the start of Namibia's response, we must also see a reliable, resourced and co-ordinated response to the violence," said the LAC.

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