The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has noticed President Lt Gen Ian Khama that it will cite him for prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes against humanity if he does not cause “the immediate prosecution and arrest” of security personnel who are behind the spate of extra-judicial killings in Botswana.
The law society served a petition on President Khama on November 2nd signed by the Law Society’s Chairman, Tebogo Sebego, and Executive Secretary, Tebogo Moipolai.
.The petition states that Botswana is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which places responsibility on the head of state to be accountable and take responsibility over killings committed by forces under his control. That failure by President Khama to avert the killings or bring the perpetrators to book renders him a candidate for citation under the Rome Statute.
“Since 1 April 2008, ten citizens have died at the hands of security agents. In most of the incidents they were apparently unarmed and presented no present or imminent threat to the safety of agents involved.”
The petition points out that, as a result of the unexplained killings, lawyers have mandated the LSB to take up the issue with the ICC.
The lawyers state that its members are constantly being asked why the ‘perpetrators of state sponsored killings are able to get away with it’.
“Promises of investigations being concluded now ring absolutely hollow as those ‘investigations’ never seem to conclude and the known state-employed perpetrators of these criminal acts walk free without charge,” state the lawyers.
The lawyers say Khama should take ‘urgent and decisive’ measures to bring to book those who are responsible for the killings.
“We believe that the family of victims and the general public are entitled to appropriate assurances and commitments, specific to each event where killings by security forces are alleged, that prosecution of offenders is either imminent or not contemplated for reasons to be advanced.
According to the lawyers, ever since Khama became President last year, there has been a rise in ‘gross human rights violation at the hands of security agents’.
Khama’s brainchild, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, is also drawn into the fray with the lawyers accusing it of being a threat to democracy and an organ with contempt for human rights.
“It is now over five months since Kalafatis died at the hands of state agents and no arrest or prosecution has taken place in this and many other similar cases,” the petition reads in part.
“In the absence of full and authoritative facts being made publicly available we are unable to say with certainty whether murder of these innocent civilians as yet amounts cumulatively to a ‘widespread or systematic’ attack sufficient to trigger ICC intervention under the Rome Statute,” the lawyers maintain.
Khama’s press secretary, Sipho Madisa, told The Telegraph on Monday that he could not comment because the issue had not been brought to his attention.