• June 6th, 2020

Pot users to march for right to “smoke”

WINDHOEK - The president of the Ganja Users of Namibia, Brian Jaftha, is taking the right to privacy fight to northern Namibia on Friday with a march scheduled from Ongwediva to Oshakati. 

Jaftha is at loggerheads with the enforcement of Namibian laws as it pertains to an adult’s right to use the cannabis plant, which he argues is his private right. The march will take place under the theme “The right to privacy” and participants will be led by a police escort from Ongwediva to the Oshana Region’s governor’s office in Oshakati. 

During an exclusive interview with New Era, Jaftha argued that the indiscriminate searching of his home, his vehicles and his person are an infringement of his inalienable right to privacy as guaranteed in Article 13 of the Namibian Constitution, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments. 

“The current interpretation of the laws infringes on my right to free movement, infringes on my right to freely travel and infringes on my right to free enterprise. When I am in my house or in my car or leave my house then everything on my person is private, provided I do not hurt or inconvenience anyone else. The right to privacy also does not stop there as I have the right to determine what I drink, what I eat, where I sleep and how to medicate myself,” said an adamant Jaftha. 

He added that he has no objection to him or his property being searched as long as the necessary warrants and documentation are in order. “It is necessary that when people’s cars and houses are searched that there should be a legal warrant. The fight is not whether cannabis is harmful or not, the issue is dealing with the prohibition of the plant,” Jaftha added. 

The GUN president’s arguments echo the challenges to prohibition of substances like tobacco, alcohol, and sugar. All of which have been proven to be far more harmful than cannabis but are now legal in a controlled operating environment. 

“Of course, I agree with the fact that cannabis can be bad if misused and I also don’t want children to use it at all. However, anything can be bad, even water, but what we have to do is to find ways to mitigate the risks involved,” said Jaftha. He continued that the current prohibition against cannabis also infringes on his right to self-medicate, which in a sense is the government telling people what medicine is best and what will work for any individual. 

Article 13 of the Namibian Constitutions states: “No persons shall be subject to interference with the privacy of their homes, correspondence or communications save as in accordance with law and as is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights or freedoms of others.”

The Namibian Constitution continues that “Searches of the person or the homes of individuals shall only be justified: where these are authorised by a competent judicial officer; in cases where delay in obtaining such judicial authority carries with it the danger of prejudicing the objects of the search or the public interest, and such procedures as are prescribed by Act of Parliament to preclude abuse are properly satisfied.” 

Also, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” 

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to date ratified by 167 states, provides in Article 17 that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”. It further states “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. 

Other international human rights instruments contain similar provisions. Laws at the regional and national levels also reflect the right of all people to respect for their private and family life, home and correspondence or the right to recognition and respect for their dignity, personal integrity or reputation. In other words, there is universal recognition of the fundamental importance, and enduring relevance, of the right to privacy and of the need to ensure that it is safeguarded, in law and in practice. 

Staff Reporter
2019-09-03 07:07:33 | 9 months ago

Be the first to post a comment...

You might also like...