In what can be interpreted as attempts by Government to placate and soften the lawyers, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security has called for a meeting with the Law Society of Botswana to iron out differences over what threatens to be a diplomatic embarrassment with international implications.
This was after the Law Society petitioned President Ian Khama warning him that he will be cited for crimes against humanity if perpetrators of extra judicial killings are not brought to book.
Last year, the LSB noticed Khama through a petition, that it will summon 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.
“I have written to the Law Society,” Minister Ramadeluka Seretse told The Telegraph.
He said that government is of the view that it needs to sit down with the Law Society to discuss the issue further.
Seretse said that he had written to the Law Society after President Khama referred the petition from the Law Society to his office.
Seretse said that he has instead invited the Law Society Council to a meeting in order to discuss the issue further.
According to the LSB, Botswana is a signatory to the Rome Statutes, which places responsibility on the Head of State to be accountable and take responsibility over killings committed by forces under his control.
However, Seretse, who is Khama’s close cousin, has come out to defend the President against charges laid by the LSB.
He told The Telegraph that prosecution could only apply in terms of the Rome Statute if Khama’s government was not doing anything about the killings.
“These cases are still under investigation,” he said.
He told this paper that it was unfair to contemplate dragging Khama before the ICC because the cases regarding the killings were all being pursued through the established legal channels.
Minister Seretse said that he was still waiting for the Law Society to suggest the date for a meeting.
He, however, would not be drawn into discussing why no prosecution had been launched despite the fact that the investigations have been ongoing for months.
In a separate interview with The Telegraph, LSB chairman, Tebogo Sebego, confirmed that his office had received a letter from Seretse.
Sebego said apart from acknowledging the petition addressed to Khama, the Minister has assured them that the matter was receiving Government attention.
“We are making arrangements to have a meeting,” revealed Sebego.
Sebego further said that the LSB Council is scheduled to meet this week to discuss, among other things, the agenda for the meeting with Minister Seretse.
The lawyers in their petition called on Khama to take “urgent and decisive” measures to bring to book those responsible for the killings.
The lawyers want government to give a word of assurance to the families of all those who lost their lives at the hands of state security forces.
According to the lawyers, ever since Khama took office, there has been a rise in the number of human rights violations, including a spate of killings by the armed forces.
There was a national uproar last year after John Kalafatis, among others, was killed by security agents.
The Commissioner of Police, Thebeyame Tsimako, has since announced that the police investigations on the matter are over and that the findings have been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.
So far, there has been no word from the DPP as to whether they are prosecuting or not.
This is despite a request from attorney Dick Bayford, representing Kalafatis family, asking to be favoured with a clear answer on the matter as the family wants to lodge a private lawsuit against the Government.