For the second time this year, the Government has rejected a recommendation to reform the customary law in order to eliminate restrictions on women’s access to property, Ditshwanelo reports, a move that is likely to alienate local women’s rights activists.
Deemed as patriarchal in nature, Customary Law has often times been criticized by Gender activists as being discriminatory against women in terms of access to property.
“We regret the rejection of the deferred recommendation for the reform of customary law to eliminate restrictions on women’s access to property,” writes Alice Mogwe of Ditshanelo.
The recommendation was first made by the United States of America in January 2013 at the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights situation in Geneva. The rejected recommendation was then deferred to June 2013, where it was rejected for the second time. The normal procedure at the UPR is for countries to advise each other on areas to focus on in order to improve their Human Rights situation.
Reasons as to why this recommendation from the USA was rejected twice by the Botswana government are still not clear.
The Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Justice, Defense and Security, Samma Tabodi, revealed to the Sunday Standard that there are no official statements available as of yet that could shed light on the reasons as to why government made the decision to reject the recommendation twice.
Tabodi explained that, as the Public Relations Office, they are yet to hold a meeting with the Minister, after which they will likely draft a press release to report what transpired at the conference in Geneva.
However, in January 2013, Ditshwanelo reports that Minister Seretse had stated that, “government will remain fully engaged on the implementation of Botswana’s human rights obligations, through the production of a comprehensive Human Rights Strategy and a National Action Plan”.
On behalf of Ditshwanelo, the Public Relations Officer, Tlatsetso Palime, said that they were not privy to the reasons behind Government’s rejection of a recommendation they fully supported.
Palime referred the paper to the Ministry for clarity.
“From a human rights perspective, we acknowledge that everything can’t be done at once; we therefore have hope that this decision might be rectified in the future,” said Palime.
Ditshwanelo said that they will remain committed to working together on this process with the government, using a people-centered, consultative, participatory, Botswana-driven, bottom-up approach led by the priorities of Batswana and linked to Vision 2016 and National plans.