Ovaherero/Nama Genocide first court appearance against Germany
WINDHOEK, 19 MAR (NAMPA) – The first hearing of the Ovaherero/Nama Genocide case took place on Thursday, 16 March, in an open court in Manhattan, New York in the United States of America.
This is after the Ovaherero/Nama filed a case against the German Government on 05 January 2017, demanding inclusion in the negotiations between Namibia and Germany, and financial reparations for the 1904-1908 genocide committed by the German army.
Thousands of Ovaherero and Nama people died during that genocide following an extermination order by the then German imperial government.
A statement availed to the media on Sunday by the Ovaherero Traditional Authority Communications Officer, Bob Kandetu states that the Legal Counsel led by Kenneth McCallion of the New York-based law firm, McCallion and Associates, answered preliminary questions the judge had about the jurisdictional issues.
McCallion also had to explain the basis subject matter, which arose under the Allien Torts Statute in the case of non US citizens’ plaintiffs such as Advocate Vekuii Rukoro and David Frederick, the chief and chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association.
According to the statement, the jurisdiction of US citizen plaintiffs such as Barnabas Katuuo and the United States Association Re, the Ovaherero/Nama Genocide case arose under Federal Common Law, which incorporates Customary International Law.
The judge further enquired about personal jurisdiction over Germany under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and Advocate Mccallion allayed the concern of the judge.
He cited two material arguments such as the violation of international law with regard to genocide by the State actor, which in this case is Germany, and expropriation of property on a discriminatory basis, targeting a particular race or ethnic group for which there has been no compensation.
“The further objective of the litigation is to seek and obtain a declaratory judgement that recognises that the exclusion of the lawful representatives of the victims of genocide in itself constitutes violation of international law as reflected by United Nations treaties and resolutions, to which the State of Germany is signatory,” reads the statement.
Since a substantial number of descendants of the genocide reside in the US and who are citizens of that country, they seek recourse to their own courts for the wrongs committed to their fore-bearers in violation of international law.
Advocate McCallion advised the court that the German Government was served with the necessary documents as per the court’s original summons, through the German Embassy in Washington.
After the preliminary interactions, the judge ordered that a second complaint be issued against Germany in terms of the Hague Convention, giving Germany until the 21 July 2017 for the next pre-trial conference.
In addition, the statement further says that failure for Germany to appear as per the said date, the court will apply a default judgement against Germany.