The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) faces court action after a Black-Operation attack against lawyers representing 10 Eritrean asylum seekers bombed.
The law firm representing the 10 Eritreans announced this week that it intends to take the DISS to court for contempt. The spy agency is believed to have violated a court order granting the law firm access to the 10 members of the Eritrean football team who are seeking asylum in Botswana.
A clandestine plan believed to have been hatched by DISS to turn 10 Eritrean players seeking political asylum in Botswana against their lawyers Bayford and Associates has revealed how the spy agency may be held in contempt of court for violating a court order.
Dick Bayford and Joao Salbany both from Bayford and Associates told reporters in Gaborone Friday that following a High Court order giving them access to their clients they visited the players at the Centre for Illegal Immigrants in Francistown.
“We had expected a warm reception from the asylum seekers after we had represented them in court and stopped the government from repatriating them to their country where they faced the wrath of their own government. But it was a cold reception,” said Bayford.
Bayford told reporters that the players disclosed how five officials from an unidentified government department met with them and misled them into signing a declaration denouncing the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights which had instructed the lawyers on behalf of the players.
The faceless state agents allegedly told the players that the two lawyers and the human rights movement were a stumbling block to the smooth processing of their asylum applications.
“The players said they did not want anything to do with us as their legal representatives because we were delaying the processing of their applications and they would rot in jail if they accepted us as their lawyers,” said Bayford.
Apparently the 10 asylum seekers were not aware that government had wanted to repatriate them and questioned the wisdom of launching legal action. “We told them that they were due for deportation. We also told them that we are an important liaison between them and their families,” said Bayford.
It was only after Bayford had shown one of the asylum seekers ÔÇô the team goalkeeper -communication between the lawyers and his sister based in Netherlands that the players began to soften.
Bayford pointed out that “if the interaction between the players and nocturnal government employees took place after the court order was issued it would be contemptuous and cloak and dagger on the part of the authorities.”
Bayford said they launched investigations to establish the identities of the five government officers by checking their names on the occurrence book. But the five government officials had not signed in the occurrence book as is norm for government officials who visit the centre. He said the Botswana Prisons Services official who was very cooperative informed them that the only government organ which was allowed to enter without following the due security measure were members of the DISS.
“So we are going seek the identification of those individuals because we believe there should be CCTV footages and we will take them to court on contempt charges,” said Bayford.
Bayford said he was however happy that in the end they managed to convince their clients to write letters revoking the declaration they signed with government officials.
“We left the place with a feeling that there was a cloak and dagger attempt to dissuade us from representing these people,” said Bayford.
He said the players were deliberately kept in the dark and were not aware of Defence, Justice and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi’s utterances that they were not going to be given asylum but deported to their country.
“They did not even know about the public outrage as a result of their plight in Botswana. The nocturnal or faceless officers were pushing a line that was initially adopted by Minister Kgathi; in other words they were sliding back to the same position adopted by Kgathi,” he said.
Bayford also expressed concern that interviews that the players had with the Refugee Advisory Committee (RAC) were rushed.
He said since the players’ detention, they have not even changed the kit they were wearing following a game against the Zebras. He said they had no washing or bathing soap and didn’t even have any form of communication with their relatives.
The players who are kept at a detention center for illegal immigrants’ case is expected to be heard on December 11.DISS Director Isaac Kgosi’s phone rang unanswered on Friday while Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security Augustine Makgonatsotlhe’s mobile phone was off. Bayford said they intend to lodge a formal complaint with Makgonatsotlhe regarding the matter.