Namibia: Germany Urges U.S. Court to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Namibian Genocide

Left column: German soldiers Right: Namibian prisoners chained (file photo).

A lawyer for Germany on Tuesday urged a U.S. judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the country on behalf of the Herero and Nama people of what is now Namibia over genocide and seizure of property carried out by German colonists more than 100 years ago.

The lawyer, Jeffrey Harris, argued to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan that the American court did not have jurisdiction over the dispute, citing Germany's status as a sovereign nation and a legal doctrine that courts should refrain from deciding purely political questions.

"You should abstain from this case under the political question doctrine and let the bilateral negotiations proceed between these two sovereigns," he said, referring to Germany and Namibia.

Kenneth McCallion, who represents the Herero and Nama leaders and organizations that brought the lawsuit, said Germany's sovereignty did not shield it from the lawsuit because the genocide was a violation of international law.

Speaking after the court hearing, Ovaherero chief Vekuii Rukoro said the case was a difficult one but they still remained optimistic.

"It's a difficult case but we prepared extremely very well and submitted a strong case. We are optimistic that we shall overcome the technical hurdle which Germany is throwing in our path to avoid having to deal with the substantive issues of the case itself - to which it has no defence and we shall overcome," said Rukoro.

-Nampa-Reuters and own report

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