The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has urged the government of Botswana to allow the First People of the Kalahari (FPK) access to water as a denial of such a basic right is a violation of one of the rights contained in the African Charter.
The Commission said on their website that government’s refusal to allow the Bushmen to use their existing borehole at Mothomelo can only be interpreted as a clear sign that it is determined to continue what is perceived as a policy of keeping the Bushmen from returning home.
The African Commission, which reports concern over the situation facing the FPK, is an organ mandated by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. Its main objective is to promote and protect human and people’s rights in the African continent.
The African Commission also operates under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which the Republic of Botswana rectified on 17 July 1986.
The commission has revealed that the Lobatse High Court 2006 ruling of the FPK’s case against government was consistent with the provisions of the African Charter, in particular articles 2,4,19 and 24 and had been welcomed by the international Human Rights community.
In December 2006 case, the FPK won the right to return to their ancestral home after being forcibly removed by the government. The high court had ruled that the eviction of the FPK from their ancestral land, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) was ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’.
The African Commission joins Survival International, amongst other organizations, in a bid to get the government of Botswana to allow FPK access to water.
The commission said that the 2006 ruling has been seriously crippled by the denial to Kalahari Bushmen, of the right to water contained in judgment No. MAHLB-000393-09 delivered on July 21st by the High Court in Lobatse. The High Court ruled that the FPK were not entitled to use an already established well on their traditional land in the Kalahari Game Reserve or excavate a new one.
“The African Commission therefore urges the Government of Botswana to embrace the spirit of the ruling of the High Court which concluded that the evictions of the Bushmen were illegal and unconstitutional, by allowing Bushmen to access their own water, using the pre-existing borehole at Mothomelo, within the reserve,” read the statement.