Botswana failing to exorcise the ghost of professor Good

18 Jul 2018

The ghost of Professor Kenneth Good continues to haunt Botswana as the country faces being blacklisted by the African Commission on Human& People’s Rights for refusing to comply with the commission’s judgment in a case in which the deported Australian academic sued the Botswana government and won an undisclosed payout.

The African Commission on Human &People’s Rights latest preliminary report list Botswana among countries that are violating human rights. The commission reported at the end of its fact-finding mission in Gaborone last week that Botswana was in the same league with other countries violating human rights following the country’s failure to implement the commission's recommendations.

Vice Chairperson of the Commission, Lawrence Murugu Mute stated that in the last 20 years Botswana has not been complying with recommendations arising from cases presided over by the commission.

‘Our challenge is that we don’t have a police arm where we force countries to comply. We expect countries to comply but in Africa it has become evident that countries such as Botswana were not complying,” stated Mute. He pointed out that Botswana was a signatory to African charter and is expected to honour the commission's findings.

He emphasised that they have approached the African Union to come up with ways to compel countries to comply with the African charter’s findings.

The African charter which is an international instrument known as the Banjul Charter was intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent. He revealed that among cases that Botswana failed to comply with was the deported Professor Kenneth Good case in which he was suing the government and won undisclosed payouts at the African Union’s human rights commission in Banjul. He further revealed that this was not the only case in which Botswana refused to comply with the findings of the commission.

Other than ruling that Professor Good should be compensated, the African charter had also recommended that Botswana should review its immigrations laws. Botswana however would not honour the findings of the commission arguing that that it was an instrument of noble ideas which unfortunately is devoid of any operation structure. Botswana also challenged the commission’s competence stating that immigration matters were not part of the mandate of the commission since the executive council of AU is responsible for immigration matters.

The commission has also advised Botswana to come up with a law that criminalizes torture among state organs.  It pointed out that there was need for Botswana to come up with statute that criminalizes police torture since it has ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman degrading treatment or punishment.

The commission also commented on plans by Botswana to set up an institution that deals with the protection of human rights. The commission stated that although the government was willing to turn the Ombudsman’s office into a hybrid institution there was need to establish it in line with principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles). The Paris Principles were defined at the first International Workshop on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights held in Paris on 7–9 October 1991. They were adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission by Resolution 1992/54 of 1992, and by the UN General Assembly in its Resolution 48/134 of 1993. The Paris Principles relate to the status and functioning of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights.