Herero, Nama descendants sue Germany over early-1900s slaughter

Hereros chained during their 1904 rebellion against German colonialists. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 06 January 2017
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Herero, Nama descendants sue Germany over early-1900s slaughter

NEW YORK: Germany was sued for damages in the United States on Thursday by descendants of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia, for what they called a genocide campaign by German colonial troops in the early 1900s that led to more than 100,000 deaths.
According to a complaint filed with the US District Court in Manhattan, Germany has excluded the plaintiffs from talks with Namibia regarding what occurred, and has publicly said any settlement will not include reparations to victims, even if compensation is awarded to Namibia itself.
“There is no assurance that any of the proposed foreign aid by Germany will actually reach or assist the minority indigenous communities that were directly harmed,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ken McCallion said in an e-mail. “There can be no negotiations or settlement about them that is made without them.”
The proposed class-action lawsuit seeks unspecified sums for thousands of descendants of the victims, for the “incalculable damages” that were caused.
US representatives of the German government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The slaughter took place from roughly 1904 to 1908, when Namibia was a German colony known as South-West Africa, after the Herero and Nama groups rebelled against German rule.
According to many published reports, victims were also subjected to harsh conditions in concentration camps, and some had their skulls sent to Germany for scientific experiments.
Some historians view what occurred as the 20th century’s first genocide, and a 1985 United Nations report said the “massacre” of Hereros qualified as a genocide.
Germany has paid victims of the Holocaust, which occurred during World War II.
The plaintiffs on Thursday sued under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 US law often invoked in human rights cases.
The US Supreme Court narrowed the law’s reach in a 2013 decision, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co, saying it was presumed not to cover foreign conduct unless the claims sufficiently “touch and concern” the United States.
McCallion said Kiobel and later rulings “leave the door open” for US courts to assert jurisdiction in genocide cases.
The plaintiffs, including some from New York, also brought federal common law and New York state law claims.


German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

Updated 51 min 59 sec ago
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German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

BERLIN: A German court on Tuesday rejected a request from prosecutors to take former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back into custody pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Spain.
Puigdemont was detained by German police March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. Spain had issued a European arrest warrant and sought his extradition on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds — charges that stem from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
He was released April 6 after a German court said it appeared he can’t be extradited for rebellion, the more serious of the two charges. But prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig argued that new information provided by Spanish authorities suggests that would be possible.
They cited videos showing violence against Spanish police and said in a statement that “the disturbances were on such a scale that prosecutors believe that he should also be extradited over the accusation of rebellion.” The prosecutors argued that the charge is comparable to two offenses under German law — treason and breaching the peace.
They said that Puigdemont would pose a flight risk and called for him to be taken back into custody. The state court in Schleswig disagreed and rejected the request.
Puigdemont remains free with certain conditions, including reporting to police once a week.
The separatist politician has been living in Berlin, frequently receiving political allies from Catalonia including his newly elected successor as regional president, Quim Torra.
The Schleswig court said it is “still open” when a final decision will be made on whether Puigdemont can be extradited. It said that the prosecutors have yet to submit a formal application to examine whether an extradition is possible.