Following his release from jail after a successful habeus corpus application just hours before his fight with Frenchman Hassan Amzile, Namibian sexual assault-accused boxer Jonas Junias Jonas has since remained in the custody of the Namibian Embassy in Brazil. Parallel to the boxer’s legal representatives dealing with the case on the ground, the Olympics’ team Chef de Mission at the Rio 2016 games, Jesse Schickerling, has called on the Namibian government to intervene in order to see the athlete vindicated.
“We believe that as an ambassador of Namibia through the sports, which he (Jonas) has excelled, it is not only the duty of the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) to assist Jonas in his quest for his vindication, but also other entities responsible for sports in the Republic of Namibia. In as much as Jonas now finds himself in the custody and care of the embassy, and to that extent is on Namibian soil, we believe that it is time the government of the Republic of Namibia intervene and assist, and start negotiations for his release and return to the Republic of Namibia,” said Schickerling through media personnel in Rio.
Via the same medium, Schickerling also narrated the events following Jonas’ release in reference to his case.
“In a notice dated 14 August 2016, Jonas was advised to appear before the Ethics Commission of the International Olympics Committee on 15 August at 17h30. The notice was only delivered to the Chef de Mission on 15 August at approximately 10h00. During the course of the day, we urgently attempted to prepare and finalise a statement on behalf of Jonas. During the hearing, which occurred at 17h30, we requested for an extension of time from the Ethics Commission to discuss the draft statement with Jonas and to also finalise that statement.
“The Ethics Commission granted our request for an extension and the matter was adjourned for 10h00 on 16 August 2016. At that hearing, we entered the statement with the commission and in that statement, we in essence recorded the history of the criminal proceedings and the three court applications and stressed that Jonas exercised his right to remain silent in the criminal proceedings and that as such he will not at this moment in time make a statement on the facts or the merits of the matter.
“We have requested the Ethics Commission to please or kindly postpone the proceedings until such time as Jonas enters his plea and plea explanation in the criminal proceedings at which time he will make a statement to the Ethics Commission. On that basis, we requested the Ethics Commission to make a ruling at our request.
“At this time (yesterday), we are still awaiting the ruling on the request. We are respectful of the view that there is no reason to rush into the proceedings before the Ethics Commission. We made it clear in the statement that Jonas has every intention to comply with the proceedings and to cooperate in the proceedings and that he will eventually make a statement on the merits of the matter.”
With regards to the criminal proceedings surrounding the case, the NNOC has scheduled a consultation with the legal practitioners today where they will tailor out a way forward in pursuit of Jonas’ vindication. It is believed that the Brazil courts are on recess until 23 August. While adding to the fact that the delegation firmly believes in the innocence of the accused, the NNOC shared their experience over the past eight days that points to the extreme exposure and vulnerability acclaimed athletes face.
“This is not the first time and this is not the last time that an accusation of this nature is made against an acclaimed athlete. What we found astonishing is that despite the protection and interest of athletes being paramount, when it comes to the practical manifestation of that protection, no structures are in place to indeed protect athletes. It is unthinkable that and athlete participating at the Olympics can be exposed to what Jonas had to endure in the last 7 days on the mere accusation of a single individual.”
While the Court for Arbitration in sports does provide a forum for the protection of athletes’ interest in and during games and in general sports-related disputes. When it comes to accusations or charges of the nature levelled against Jonas, during game times at games venue or the Olympics village, no structure is in place to assist such an athlete and to ensure that in such circumstances, the athlete is protected.
“NNOC wishes to make it clear that it will do everything in its power and make available within its ability all such resources as it can to ensure that the rights of Jonas are protected and he is vindicated of this charge.”