Response to the statement in the Namibian newspaper on 23 January 2013
Issued by the President and Council of the Law Society:
On 18 January 2013 the High Court of Namibia handed down an order in case no I 492/2012. The High Court granted the plaintiff the opportunity to present arguments on the matter to the Court. The Court also required the Law Society of Namibia to present arguments to the Court Amicus Curiae (as a friend of the court).
The Namibian Newspaper published an article on 23 January 2013 in which it recorded certain statements - made by the plaintiff in the matter currently before the High Court of Namibia - that were aimed at the High Court and at the Law Society of Namibia.
The Law Society will not comment on the matter that is serving before Court as it is sub judice.
The plaintiff was reported to have subsequently lashed out at the Law Society, accusing it of being “an entity manned by functionaries of apartheid” and of standing “for the interest of a select group”.
Although the Constitution of Namibia grants all persons the right to freedom of speech and expression, it is utterly important to remember that the Constitution only allows this fundamental freedom to be exercised subject to the law of Namibia, in so far as the law imposes reasonable restrictions of the rights and freedoms conferred by the Constitution which are necessary in a democratic society and are required, amongst other things, in the interests of decency and morality and in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
The Law Society is not an organ of apartheid nor does it support the practice or ideology of apartheid. The Law Society of Namibia is a statutory body created by the Parliament of Namibia in 1995 post-independence Namibia. Every legal practitioner in Namibia in terms of the Legal Practitioners Act is a member of the Law Society. Every legal practitioner makes an oath or affirms that he or she will defend and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia as the Supreme Law.
In terms of the Constitution, Namibia is founded upon the principles of democracy, the rule of law and justice for all. It further states that “the practice and ideology of apartheid from which the majority of the people of Namibia have suffered for so long shall be prohibited and ... may be rendered criminally punishable by the ordinary Courts by means of such punishment as Parliament deems necessary for the purposes of expressing the revulsion of the Namibian people at such practices.”
By virtue of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Law Society regulates the members of the legal profession by, amongst other things, maintaining and enhancing the standards of conduct and integrity of all members of the legal profession. It therefore, amongst other things, represents the interests and presents the views of a specific group of persons, namely legal practitioners. It further seeks the enhancement of the Rule of Law and the promotion of human rights, and shares the revulsion of the Namibian people at the practice and ideology of apartheid. As such, the Law Society of Namibia neither supports nor promotes such practices.
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