Monday, July 4, 2022

Botswana says ‘no’ to abolishing death penalty

The government of Botswana has once again rejected recommendations to abolish the death penalty.

This was announced by the Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse, on Monday, February 12th when addressing the media about his recent trip to the 15th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He says for as long as the greater majority of Batswana continue to support capital punishment the government will continue to up-hold it. Seretse also dismissed reports that there is no transparency in the way the president executes his powers on prerogative of mercy.

“The president is advised by a select committee which makes a recommendation on whether or not he can exercise his right to grant mercy to a person on death row,” he said.

Sections 53 and 54 of the Botswana Constitution dictate that:

The President may:

(a) Grant to any person convicted of any offence a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions;

(b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence;(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any offence; and (d) remit the whole or part of any punishment imposed on any person for any offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the Government on account of any offence.

There shall be an Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy which shall consist ofÔÇö

(a) The Vice-President or a Minister appointed by the President by instrument in writing under his hand;

(b) The Attorney-General; and

(c) A person qualified to practise in Botswana as a medical practitioner, appointed by the President by instrument in writing under his hand …..

…The President who shall, as far as is practicable, attend and preside at all meetings of the Committee, and, in the absence of the President, the member of the Committee appointed under subsection (1)(a) of this section shall preside.
Some of the rejected recommendations include:

Abolition of the death penalty; improved transparency of the clemency process in death penalty cases recommended by the United Kingdom; decriminalize consensual same-sex activities recommended by Czech Republic; ensure that tourism development in the CKGR allows indigenous peoples to continue with their traditional practices, including hunting and harvesting for subsisting, as well as access to water recommended by Mexico.

Deferred recommendations included:

Ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratification of the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and ILO Conventions 169 and 189. Extend an open invitation to Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council; Engage in dialogue to repeal laws which criminalize consensual adult same sex relations; realize the universal realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

“Those that we deferred are generally those that require further consultation with stakeholders such as the ILO Conventions on the prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” Seretse said.

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