Namibia: Decision On Genocide Reparations Deferred

German troops in Keetmanshoop during the Herero uprising in 1904.

INTERNATIONAL media reported last week that United States judge Laura Taylor Swain has postponed making her decision on whether to hear the lawsuit in which Namibian communities are demanding reparations from Germany over the 1904-08 genocide.

Judge Taylor Swain has been presiding over the genocide case in New York's District Court since its launch in January last year by both the Nama and Ovaherero communities.

The communities were led by paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro and the late chief David Fredericks as well as the Ovaherero Genocide Association in the USA, among others.

The case aimed to fight for inclusion at the negotiating table since neither Germany nor the Namibian government have been receptive of their requests as well as genocide reparations' claims.

Last week Tuesday, international media reported that Taylor Swain not only failed to make a decision, but also chose to not set a date when her decision would be made.

The Namibian had reported that the case faced many delays, with Germany refusing to send a representative until earlier in January this year when they filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the fact that they have state immunity.

This motion was dismissed by Taylor Swain later the same month, but Germany still continues to enunciate through their lawyer Jeffrey Harris its stance that it cannot be tried in the US as it is a sovereign state.

The lawsuit was filed under the Alien Tort Statute that allows non-US citizens to make claims in US federal courts for international law violations.

The Nama Technical Genocide Committee's Ida Hoffman and also a Swapo parliamentarian said they are confident that they will win the case, and expressed gratitude for all the support that they get from their US lawyers. "The support they give us is more than what we get from our own country," said Hoffman.

Rukoro has told The Namibian in the past that they depend on donations and goodwill from supporters for their transport to and from New York, as well as their accommodation.

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