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Ombudsman's meeting. Nothing but a farce?

posted Jun 8, 2012, 2:49 PM by Pat Dickens   [ updated Jun 8, 2012, 2:53 PM ]
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Press Release - 07/06/2012

In September of 2011, we attended an international stakeholders meeting in Windhoek which was convened by the country's ombudsman, Adv. John Walters. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the legalities and the methods of slaughter employed regarding the annual massacre of Cape Fur seals in that country. The ombudsman would then release a report so as to determine the future of slaughtering seals in Namibia.

At the time, we suspected the meeting was a delay tactic employed by the Namibian government to ease off the pressure from ourselves and especially our calls for an international boycott of the country based on the cruelty aspects involved. This delay would then allow the government to proceed with another year of illegal slaughtering in 2012. We raised our concerns regarding this issue on our website.

Lack of transparency is nothing new to the Namibian seal slaughter so, with our suspicions raised, we delivered a petition with 22 000 signatures from the international community calling on Adv. Walters to institute a moratorium on all seal culling activity until such stage as he could make an informed decision. This moratorium would be based on the uncertainty principle and would prevent Namibia from further potentially violating any laws should it be found that the massacre is indeed illegal. (Which we firmly believe it to be.)

We decided to give the ombudsman the benefit of the doubt. We had hoped that the government would honour their responsibilities and would work with Adv. Walters in assisting him to complete his report timeously. In email correspondence sent from his office it was promised that his report would then be released in March. 

We were then informed that the ombudsman was unable to proceed with this report as he was awaiting the results of an aerial survey which was undertaken in December of 2011. Once again, a postponement was set for the end of May. Again, we raised our concerns not only via our website but also in direct correspondence with both the Office of the Namibian Ombudsman as well as the media. Adv. Walters replied to our concerns via a statement in the press where he assured us that no stall tactics were being employed. 

Subsequent to this, Bernard Esau, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources has disregarded the investigation into this barbaric savagery by increasing the number of rights holders from three to six. In doing so, Minister Esau has shown contempt for any possible findings of the ombudsman, regardless of what the outcome may be. Furthermore, we question how the Minister can claim to be harvesting seals in a responsible and sustainable manner when no complete population data exists on the species since 2007. Can the Minister kindly explain to the good people of Namibia on what basis he is making this judgement? Would he kindly explain why he is ploughing ahead with no scientific data, slaughtering the countries second largest tourist attraction and creating an international uproar to the detriment of the county's economy?

We are now well into June. The illegal and unscientific massacre of the country's national asset is around the corner. Still, we have no word or response from Adv Walters. If anything, we have a bunch of misinformed individuals, masquerading as conservationists, trying to discredit reputable organizations with some twisted smear campaign and lobbying the government to declare us as terrorists when all we are interested in is the welfare of a species that has suffered a 98% loss of habitat and has barely survived seven major mass die offs in 16 years. 

We also fail to see the need for Adv. Walters to even consider a population survey when the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the legalities and the methods of "harvest." Surely, if it was shown in no uncertain terms there are gross violations of the law occurring, then any population data should be insignificant and the bloodbath called off immediately. If the purpose of the meeting was to establish the size of the seal population, the legalities and the method of "harvest" then by all means await this survey. But to continue dilly dallying while the country suffers from increased calls for an economic consumer boycott can be likened to the situation where Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

The situation is so utterly ridiculous that we have no alternative but to ask the question "Was the Ombudsman's meeting nothing but a complete farce?"

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Subsequent (edited) press article HERE