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Tuesday, 08 November 2011 18:23

NAMIBIA: Govt to Engage Germany On Children


Cabinet has resolved to officially ask the German and other European governments to take back children who were brought to Namibia for rehabilitation after they were convicted of crimes in their countries of origin.

Secretary to Cabinet, Frans Kapofi, confirmed this upon inquiry yesterday.

Government spokesperson Information and Communication Technology Minister Joël Kaapanda, said the European children's continued presence in Namibia was "tantamount to human trafficking".

But the German embassy in Windhoek yesterday appeared unaware of Cabinet's decision to ask authorities back home to find a way of taking the minors back.

In fact, the embassy has washed its hands over the whole debacle, saying Namibia should deal directly with local organisations that are hosting such children in exchange for hefty money from Europe as payment.

An embassy spokesperson said this when asked whether Germany has been briefed about the Namibian Cabinet's decision and whether it has started the process of repatriating the children.

The children, about 40 of them, were brought to Namibia as part of a rehabilitation process after being convicted for a variety of crimes in their countries of origin.

They are deemed too young to be jailed, hence their governments' decision to ship them to Namibia where they are now hosted by a couple of self-styled welfare orgaisations.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, during its ad hoc visits to farms in the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions earlier this year, uncovered the syndicate after finding many of the children working on farms.

In its report to Cabinet, the labour ministry said some children did not have identity documents, which makes their stay in Namibia illegal.

Other children were also found to be too young to be working, as the country's laws prohibit child labour.

The ministry of labour recommended to Cabinet that legal action be taken against any organisation found to have brought children to Namibia illegally. Despite confirming Cabinet's resolution to engage the Germans on the subject, Kapofi was unable to say whether this has yet been done.

"In view of our relation with Germany, it was resolved that the German government would be asked to take back the German children," Kapofi said.

"I don't know if the German government has been informed officially yet and whether they have responded."

He added: "It appears that the children themselves want to go back to their countries."

He said while many of the children are German, there were others that came from other European countries. Attempts to get comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the subject proved futile.

Source: New Era (Windhoek, Namibia)

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