Sunday, October 17, 2021

Kirby orders release of asylum seekers from detention

Court of Appeal President, Justice Ian Kirby has lashed out at the Botswana Government for detaining hundreds of asylum seekers at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.

Kirby on Friday ordered the State to transport the asylum seekers and accommodate them at Dukwi refugee camp.

The Attorney General had engaged private law firm Collins, Newman & Co to appeal a decision by Francistown High Court judge, Justice Phadi Solomon to have the asylum seekers released to Dukwi refugee camp.

The state argued that the respondents (Engama Ngezi and 163 others) were rightfully placed at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.

The Asylum seekers had sought court intervention to be recognized as refugees and not criminals entering Botswana with some hidden motives. More than 250 refugees have been awaiting relocation to Dukwi since an order was issued by Justice Solomon that they be transported to the Dukwi refugee camp by or before the 21st of July 2017.

Justice Kirby ordered the state to respect Justice Solomon’s decision of 14 July 2017 wherein she had instructed the State to transport and accommodate the asylum seekers at Dukwi Camp.

‘’The order of the court below dated 14th of July is expanded to the extent that the State should comply with this in full by no later than 5:00 pm on Friday August 2017 by which time all the 163 Asylum seekers including their registered dependents shall have been conveyed to Dukwi refugee Camp at Government expense and should have been accorded temporary shelter and basic necessities,” said Kirby.

The asylum seekers lawyer, Morgan Moseki said the asylum seekers had been unlawfully detained at the Francistown Centre for Illegal since 2015.

The petitioners who come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Namibia and Zimbabwe have been kept at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants since 2015 with their young children. They fled to Botswana because of the volatile political climate in their respective countries.

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