Diplomatic relations between Botswana and South Africa will once again be put to the test over the week during the South African Development Community extradition and legal assistance conference.
About eight SADC countries will convene in Gaborone this week to discuss extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements.
The organizer of the conference, Deputy Director of Directorate of Public Prosecutions Kabo Leinaeng said Botswana will be hosting the conference for the very first time in history.
“We have in the past had problems with extraditing criminals from some SADC countries. We hope the conference will ease tensions and improve relations with such countries. The conference will improve legal cooperation between SADC countries” he said.
Participating countries will examine issues related to extradition and mutual legal assistance, and also share information on extradition laws.
The South African delegation has also been invited, and Leinaeng expressed hope that the thorny issue of extradition of murder suspects between Botswana and South Africa will be discussed.
The Minister of Justice, Defense and Security Ramadeluka Seretse recently said Botswana has decided to stop signing any extradition agreements of murder suspects with South Africa.
Relations between Botswana and South Africa have soured over the latter’s refusal to extradite murder suspects to Botswana, unless there is guarantee that the suspects will not be given capital punishment. Unlike in Botswana, in South Africa capital punishment has been outlawed.
Seretse said it is unfair for murder suspects who are extradited from South Africa to be given lighter sentences than those arrested in Botswana.