British legislators and human right lawyers have petitioned President Ian Khama and his government to lift visa restrictions on Basarwa’s lawyer Gordon Bennet.
Bennet was placed on a visa list a few months ago by the Botswana Government after he allegedly made a political statement. As a result of his inclusion on the list, Bennett was unable to return to Botswana and represent Basarwa in their case against government.
British parliamentarians Zac Goldsmith MP and Lord Avebury have condemned the government decision.
In a letter to President Khama, copied to Labour and Home Affairs Minister Edwin Batshu and Attorney General Dr. Athaliah Molokomme, the Bar Human Rights Committee which is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, wants the decision on Bennet to be reviewed and set aside.
The Committee’s Chairperson, Kirsty Brimelow asks President Khama to ensure that appropriate authority is instructed to remove Bennett’s name from the list and that he be granted free and unfettered entry to Botswana and ensure that whilst going about his legitimate business on behalf of his clients in Botswana he is free to practice without interference or intimidation from any quarter.
“The BHRC wishes to express its grave concerns as to these events and to request that this case is urgently reviewed,” said Brimelow.
“In the event that Bennett’s name is not removed from the list, BHRC wants President Khama to provide Bennett with details as to the basis upon which the original decision was made and as to why this decision is not being rescinded.
“We would ask that he be afforded a fair opportunity, if he chooses to exercise it, to challenge that decision,” said Brimelow.
On the 31 June 2013, Bennett was taken from the Department of Wildlife in Gaborone, where he was seeking to obtain a permit in order to visit his clients in the CKGR, to the Department of Immigration.
According to Brimelow, Bennett was told by the Director of Immigration that a report had been received alleging that he had been making political speeches to his clients and that this allegation might damage his relations with the state of Botswana.