Saturday, June 22, 2024

CKGR belongs to all Basarwa, UN tells Botswana Govt

The United Nations (UN) has told the Botswana Government that the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) belongs to Basarwa regardless of whether or not they were party to the 2006 Sesana judgment.

In a new report, the UN called on Botswana to implement the Sesana judgment in full. The judgment found that the relocation of Basarwa from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) was unlawful.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released its findings which were published on 2nd December following a meeting with a Botswana delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, led by Presidential Assistant Minister Dumezweni Mthimkhulu and Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN Athaliah Molokomme.

The Committee noted with “concern that the information contained in the alternative reports differs from the information provided by the State party regarding the implementation of the High Court’s decision regarding the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.”

In particular, the Committee said, “those groups who were not party to the Roy Sesana and other v. the Attorney General Case have not been allowed to return to the Reserve to settle there.”

Furthermore, the Committee found, those who are allowed to return must obtain a prior permit and encounter difficulties in resuming and conducting their traditional activities.

“Contrary to the State Party’s assertions that the Central Kalahari Park is not intended for human habitation, reports from United Nations mandate holders indicate that the Park was originally created in 1961 to enable the San peoples, ancestral inhabitants of the Kalahari Desert, to live there according to their hunting and gathering traditions while respecting wildlife,” the report says.

These reports, the Committee found also underline that the restrictive execution of the High Court’s decision and particularly the removal of the children from the Park at the age of 18 would aim for there to be no more inhabitants after the death of the elders. The Committee urged Botswana “to fully implement the High Court’s decision by allowing all ethnic groups originating from this reserve to return and settle there unconditionally.” The Committee also recommended that Botswana provides them with effective access to basic social services and enable them to resume their traditional activities without hindrance.

“The High Court of Botswana ruled in 2006 that the Government’s refusal to grant Basarwa and Bakalagadi indigenous people’s access to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve without a permit was illegal and unconstitutional,” the report says. The Committee, however, noted with concerns that some indigenous groups are still not permitted to settle back in the reserve.

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