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Yet, the two peoples had a common history of submission to a colonial power; and although allowed to remain on their ancestral lands, they were not informed that they’d been colonized.One of the oldest justifications for the occupation of inhabited land, the so-called terra nullius rule, was abandoned due to a lawsuit brought by the Meriam people, the Mabo case.
Res nullius | Land rights | Colonial rights | Namibian land issue | Herero genocide The acts and events by which that dispossession in legal theory was carried into practical effect constitute the darkest aspect of the history of this nation.
The nation as a whole must remain diminished unless and until there is an acknowledgment of, and retreat from, those past injustices.
Walvis Bay was not included in Namibia, since it was occupied by Britain.
European mission societies started working in Namibia in 1840.
In determining property rights, it didn’t really matter whether the land had been occupied, or if it had been ceded or conquered.
In 19th and early 20th century colonial legal thought, all “undiscovered land”, that is to say lands where no Europeans had settled, were considered as res nullius.In terms of understanding the colonial law of that time, when a territory became part of the Crown’s dominions, the law of England (so far as applicable to colonial conditions) became the law of the Murray Islands and their inhabitants – the Meriam people.Her Majesty acquired absolute ownership of all land in the islands.In 1890 German forces in Namibia started a vigorous crusade to make subjects of the native tribes.This resulted in the extermination of 75% of the Herero population and 50% of the Nama and Damara populations.What do the small Murray Islands (Mer, for the natives), which have a total land area of hardly nine square kilometers in the Torres Strait off the Queensland coast (Australia) have in common with Namibia?Surely not geography, nor even the history of their occupation.In these circumstances, the Court is under a clear duty to re-examine the two propositions.For the reasons which we have explained, that re-examination compels their rejection.Neither the Meriam people nor the individuals on the islands had any right or interest to any land in the territory, only the Crown could grant possession or ownership to anyone.The Namibian occupation was a bloody affair, unlike that of the Murray Islands.