Friday, September 18, 2020

Gov’t refutes allegations of forced Namibian repatriations

By Calistus Bosaletswe

Namibian refugees fear that the Botswana government is secretly repatriating some of them after government attempts to deport them failed this year.

But the Botswana government was quick to dispel fears that they were forcefully repatriating the Namibia refugees who approached the court this year to interdict government from deporting them

Namibian refugees have been in a tussle with the government following the announcement that the refugees were going to lose their refugees status on July 11 this year if they fail to register for voluntary repatriation.

The Namibian refugees, spokesperson Felix Takula was worried that the government was secretly repatriating refugees despite that there is a court order that stopped government from deporting refugees.

Takula expressed concern that the latest move to repatriate four refugees under secrecy was another move meant to divide the Namibian refugees. According to Takula some among the four refugees had committed offences and had served their sentence.

“They have been keeping them in jail despite that they completed their sentences. They were only told that they will not be released if they don’t agree to be repatriated to Namibia. They didn’t have a choice but to agree to be repatriated than remaining in prisons despite serving their sentences for crimes that they committed,” said Takula.

Takula fears that more Namibian refugees could be setup for criminal offences that they have never committed in a bid to get them to agree to be repatriated back to their country.

According to him this mischievous move is meant to get more Namibians out of the country after the government failed to deport the refugees. He indicated that the leadership of the Namibian refugees was not informed about this move.

 “We fear that this is another form of deportation which is against the court order,”said Takula. He  said that the government continues to use other tricks to intimidate the Namibian refugees.

Takula indicated that recently the government went further to threaten that they will not be distributing ARVs to refugees.

“Whether they don’t give us ARV medication or not we are not going back because we fear for our lives. Our political party has been banned in Namibia and fear that we might be persecuted,” added Takula.

The Lobatse High Court  interdicted the Botswana government from deporting Namibian refugees at Dukwi Camp in July.

 Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa of  Lobatse High Court ordered that the government should not deport the Namibian refugees until reasons for fleeing no longer exist.

Defence, Justice and Security, Permanent Secretary, Segakweng Tsiane has refuted claims that they were secretly repatriating the Namibian refugees without their wish.

“I can confirm that we have received four Namibian adults refugees who want to take up voluntary repatriation back home to Namibia,” said Tsiane.

She explained that the four were former refugees that had applied to be repatriated. According to Tsiane their applications were still being processed through normal process which is done in consultation with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration(IOM).

Tsiane disputed allegations that they tricked refugees to agree to the repatriation arguing that the refugees are the ones who approached the Ministry. According to Tsiane, the process will also entail availing transport for them and all their personal effects as well as resettlement allowance upon arrival.

“This process is without any duress by anybody. It is also not in contravention of any law or court order. I can also confirm that the court order does not prohibit anybody who voluntarily wants to go home from doing so and be lawfully facilitated to do so,” added Tsiane.

According to Tsiane there was no way how the government could act contrary to a court order.

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