Thursday, April 25, 2024

Botswana climbs down on Basarwa issue

Botswana has appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Council for help on how to protect the rights of Basarwa, prison inmates, children and abused spouses.

In a dramatic turn of events, the Botswana report presented to the human rights council in Geneva last week revealed that government was seeking assistance on how to address human rights issues lodged against it with the council.

The report stated that Botswana is seeking help from the human rights council in protecting the rights of Basarwa, prison inmates, children and in the administration of justice and protection against domestic violence.

The appeal by government takes away the sting from a report by Ditshwanelo and the NGO community tabled before the United Nations Human Rights Council accusing Botswana of violating the rights of Basarwa living in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve. The accusations against government were backed by a report tabled by the Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur James Ajaya.

Ajaya stated that while he acknowledged the important advances Botswana has made, there were repeated statements of discontent among communities visited, predominantly Basarwa and Bakgalagadi communities.

He stated the discontent was in relation to access to health, education, services, land and resources. He noted that Basarwa had indicated that they were not consulted in implementation of the government development initiatives affecting them.

He singled out the issue of Basarwa from CKGR which the government has promoted pursuant to its development and conservation plans.

He noted in his report that the settlements of Kaundwane and New Xhade outside the reserve, the residents complained about their relocation while those in the reserve expressed concern at the lack of access to services including water.

Ajaya also stated that he was struck by the apparent sincerity and consistency of the accounts which were reinforced by information and analysis provided by respected non-governmental actors in Botswana and other credible sources.

Minister Ramadeluka Seretse who represented Botswana at the human rights council stated that government was also seeking assistance with producing a “common core document, human rights education, improving the justice system and strengthening the monitoring of progress in achieving MDG’s and the goals in Vision 2016.”


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