Juvenile justice in Namibia: Law reform towards reconciliation and restorative justice?
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Namibia is a newly independent nation, which in the wake of colonial oppression and foreign rule has yet to develop a comprehensive juvenile justice system. The current criminal justice system is informed by stereotyped common sense concepts of ‘criminality’ and ‘the criminal’. Simplistic views undergirded by utilitarian arguments have put Namibia at odds with international instruments, such as the United Nations Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) and the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC), which have embraced a holistic perspective on juvenile crime and deviance. In the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’, a frame of mind prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, which relates to a specific communal approach to the notion of people, Namibia has set forth to establish a restorative juvenile justice system. This endeavor has led to the drafting of the Child Justice Bill, which is under scrutiny in this article. The authors highlight the arguments behind the most important parts of the draft Bill, and assess the merits of the proposed law against the backdrop of international legal instruments and law reform projects of other countries.