Friday, October 23, 2020

Has the Law Society chickened out?

After months of planning to deliver a petition to President Ian Khama on extra-judicial killings, the Law Society of Botswana says they have shelved the idea for now.

“We do not want to be seen to be pursuing some political agenda,” the Society’s Chairman, Tebogo Sebego, told the Telegraph this week.

He said the Law Society council had resolved to deliver the petition after the General Elections because they do not want its contents to be construed as a political agenda.

Sebego said that some members felt that the issue was sensitive.
He said delivering the petition on the eve of a General Election would bring about insinuations of politicizing the matter.

The important thing, he said, is that the LSB does not want to be seen mixing justice with politics.

Following the killing of John Kalafatis by security agents a few months ago, the Law Society mooted the possibility of approaching the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the state of governance in Botswana.

In July this year, the LSB held an Annual General meeting in Francistown in which members resolved that Khama should be petitioned on the rising extra judicial killings by security agents.

So far, the Office of the President has admitted to the killing of eight people by security forces, between April 2008 and April this year. The latest of these was John Kalafatis, who was gunned down gangland style by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) in Gaborone in May.

At the time, LSB chairman, Tebogo Sebego, was quoted as saying that Khama would be petitioned to ensure that extra-judicial killings did not continue as he is the commander-in chief of the armed forces and the only individual to whom the Directorate of Security and Intelligence (DIS) is accountable to.

At the time, the Law Society said Botswana lawyers wanted an assurance that the killings thus far recorded are fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to book. The lawyers had stated that the issue was urgent and that they wanted Botswana investigated for crimes against humanity.

Three months down the line, the petition has still not found its way to the president’s desk.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Sebego denied that LSB had chickened out.

He insisted the petition will still be delivered to President Khama.
“The feeling is that we should submit it after the elections,” he stated.

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