Francistown High Court Judge, Professor Kholisani Solo on Monday released two Somali refugees, Bashir Issa Abdi and Faisal Issa Ali from prison after they were arrested and detained for being prohibited immigrants by the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) and immigration officials in Francistown on the 6th and 8th of August 2015 respectively.
The two were detained at the Francistown Centre of Illegal Immigrants in Gerald Estate location.
Their lawyer Morgan Moseki on Monday served an urgent application before court for his clients to be released as he did not find reason for them to be held behind bars.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is cited as 1st respondent while the Attorney General is cited as the second respondent.
The refugees maintain in their petitions that they are residents of Dukwi Refugee Camp and have valid refugee identity cards which are recognized by the Botswana government. The first petitioner Ali alleges that on the 8th of August 2015, he obtained what is generally known as an exit permit from Dukwi which was valid for a day and to his shock he was arrested in Francistown despite the fact that he had a legitimate permit.
Ali who is also a businessman in Francistown selling imported cars says that just like any other businessman, he is forced to make visits between Francistown and Dukwi from time to time including making bank transactions as and when the need arises.
The duo indicated in their petitions that they do not know the names of the DIS agents who arrested them but can be able to identify them as they had arrested them a number of times before.
After they were arrested by the DIS the two men say that they were then handed over to the Immigration officers who then detained them without any charges. Ali claims that the DIS agents have since confiscated his cellphones. They argue in the petitions that they are not prohibited immigrants but political refugees.
In the urgent application, Moseki sought a court order directing that the detention of petitioners without being charged should be declared unlawful and abuse of authority.
“The court should also seek course on why the respondents should not be ordered to deliver to the first petitioner Ali his cellphones and any goods they seized from him. The court should also show cause why the respondents should not be ordered to desist from harassing the petitioners and members of their community,” he said.
Justice Solo sought to know if the petitioners were flight risks, and Moseki said they were not a flight risk more so that they had businesses in Botswana. The state attorney, Kemoabetswe Mareme from the Attorney General was at pains to explain if the men are a flight risk or not.
“I merely believe this a human right abuse. They have been remanded in prison for nothing. On a number of occasions they have been taken into prison and out without being charged or being brought to court,” said Moseki. He said the two men are legitimate refugees who have valid documents.
The Judge ordered that the duo be released from prison. He advised the state attorney Mareme, to enquire with the law enforcement authorities and from his colleagues to see if they should continue with the case. He said the state should provide more documents to show cause why the men should be remanded in custody.
“Should there be need to proceed with this matter, the state should file its documents supporting the need to do so. In the meantime the men will be released from prison,” ordered the Judge.
Hearing is slated for the 22nd of September 2015.