Sunday, May 16, 2021

Khama, Kgosi, Kgathi “unlawfully” denying refugees legal representation

President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi, Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Isaac Kgosi and Commissioner of Prisons Silas Motlalekgosi are unlawfully denying two Ugandan refugees legal representation.

The Ministry of Defence Justice and Security was on Friday defying a court order against the quartet, that local attorney, Martin Dingake be allowed to consult his clients Musa Isabirye and Timothy Amin both refugees from Uganda.

 

In an unprecedented turn of events, the Department of Prisons recently posted a notice on prison walls stating:  “Attention to all officers and general public. This serves to inform all that the below mentioned who have been declared prohibited immigrants by the president of Botswana His Excellency Sir Seretse Khama Ian Khama are not allowed to be visited by anyone including their legal representatives.”

 

Justice Lot Moroka this week however issued an order against President Khama, Shaw Kgathi, Isaac Kgosi, Silas Motlalekgosi and the Attorney General Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme without hearing their representations (ex parte).

 

Justice Moroka declared that the notice prohibiting local attorney Martin Dingake from consulting his clients was “unconstitutional, irrational and unlawful.”

 

The Department of Prisons has however ignored the court order. Dingake told the Sunday Standard that, “We now do not know where clients are and we are being sent from pillar to post.  At First Offenders they referred us to SSKA Police. At SSKA police the Station Commander is refusing to receive the order and says he knows nothing of the matter and where clients are. They have effectively ignored the court order we got.”

 

Dingake had filed an ex parte urgent application after he was obstructed from consulting his clients. The pair was granted refugee status in 2011. However no reviews of their status were done as required by the Refugee (Recognition and Control) Act until they picketed outside the UNCHR offices in 2013 complaining about their general welfare. They were subsequently detained without trial. Dingake, however, successfully moved court for their release.

 

The duo then issued summons against government for unlawful arrest and detention. The matter is still pending.  In March this year they were detained after their status was revoked.  They successfully challenged the revocation of their status. Whilst the matter was still pending, immigration officials tried to sneak them out of the country.  Their lawyer managed to get an order against the immigration department when Musa Isabirye had already boarded the plane back to Uganda.

 

Sunday Standard has further established that sometime in April they saw their names in a notice board at the Dukwi Refugee Camp calling them to appear before the Refugee Advisory Committee (RAC). This was without notice and against the Act. Dingake, who was still acting for the two refugees, advised RAC that his clients would not attend the inquiry.

They then issued Summons in terms of the Act.
According to Dingake, “The basis of the inquiry wasn’t stated. The Summons said the inquiry is in terms of Section 4. That inquiry is for the granting or consideration of the granting of refugee status. It couldn’t apply to them since they were already refugees.  Again we wrote to RAC. And said we would ignore that inquiry.”

“It seems they sat and revoked their refugee status as clients were served with revocation letters on the 13th Oct 2015. The revocation was done in Sept 15. Thereafter, it would seem, on the 23 or 28th Sept 2015, the president acting in terms of Section 41 (2) (c) of the Immigration Act declared them prohibited immigrants.”

Dingake issued a statutory notice to review, correct and set aside these decisions on the 21st Oct. “We also asked for an undertaking that they shouldn’t be deported pending the review. No undertaking was given. We settled court papers and when I attended to prisons for them to sign I was not allowed to see them pursuant to a notice to that effect.
The interim interdict application was therefore frustrated.”

“I moved court ex parte to facilitate this application by allowing me to have access to them so they sign and that meanwhile they do not be deported”, stated Dingake.

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