Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Botswana fails her children – BONELA

Botswana Network on Ethics, LAW and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) has slammed government for failing to report on progress made by the country to address issues affecting children.

BONELA executive director Cindy Kelemi has said that despite signing to be part of the African charter on the rights and welfare of children, Botswana has not reported once.

Kelemi said as a result, the civil society organization suspects that government might be hiding serious information from being exposed to the globe.

She noted that it is imperative for the country to report as there are growing concerns of sexual violence, teenage pregnancy and child labor in the country.  

“As you may be aware, Botswana is one of the signatories on human rights charter on people’s rights in the African continent, so being a signatory, the expectation is that there is what is called committees of experts who basically monitor the extent to which various instruments that Botswana is signatory to are being implemented.”  

“So in this particular case, Botswana as you know it did sign for the African charter on the rights and welfare of children but we signed with reservations and one of the reservations at the time was that we do not agree with the definition of a child which is 18 years old and that has been a problem for the African union,” said Kelemi.

She highlighted that a committee of experts assigned to monitor welfare of children at country level expressed shock how Botswana signed with reservations yet they are implementing some of the laws aligned to the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child.

She further said as a signatory, Botswana is always expected to report to the committee on the status of children in the country.

“Since we signed, we have never reported, not even once, so the African committee of experts is concerned as to why is the country failing to report and why are they failing to live up to their obligation in terms of reporting about the status and welfare of children.” 

“It is very important to report because the committee through the African Union would not know how are we in terms of addressing challenges facing children in Botswana and how far they are willing to commit to improving welfare of children in the country,” added Kelemi.

She further said government failure to report hinders the civil society from providing a complimentary report.

“In the absence of the report it means the African Union cannot track, they cannot monitor and they cannot share any data coming from Botswana”

“So, when you look at the countries that have not reported with us, these are countries where we know violation of children’s rights are rampant where they have even been recruited into the army,” said Kelemi.

She indicated that there has not been any communication on the part of government on why it has failed to report.

Kelemi stressed that as the civil society, there are a good number of issues they would like to highlight but in the absence of report, it remains difficult.

She also said this has even regressed their efforts of securing donors as the country’s failure has made things difficult for them.

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