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In January, 1983, the Namibian Bar Council1 wrote a letter to the Namibian Administrator-General, the head of South Africa's occupation regime in Namibia, urging him to create a judicial commission of inquiry. The purpose of such a commission was to investigate the security legislation in effect in the Territory and the alleged abuses in the application of that legislation.2 Given the political situation in Namibia, the request was daring and unprecedented. In South Africa, a call for a commission of inquiry is not ordinarily a party-political gesture. Rather, such a call indicates serious dissatisfaction with some aspect of the state's financial, administrative, or judicial affairs. By its request, the Namibian Bar Council was questioning not just the territorial administration, but the South African regime that ruled Namibia against the will of its inhabitants and in defiance of international law.3 It was seeking, furthermore, a probe of the elements by which the South African government maintained its control.

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