A local advocacy group called First People of Kalahari (FPK) is circulating an e-mail message to the media making comments about a report by the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
It is clear that the FPK got this information from and is circulating it on behalf of a British non governmental organisation called Survival International.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation would like to draw the attention of both FPK and Survival International, as well as the media, to the procedures that are followed when reports such as the one referred to in the e-mail messages in question are produced and submitted to the relevant Organs of the African Union and the International Community.
First, a Mission is undertaken by a Working Group or the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights at the invitation of the State Party. The findings of the Mission are then submitted to the State Party for comments.
The findings of the Mission and the response of the State Party are thereafter compiled into a report that is submitted to the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
After endorsement by the AU Assembly, the report is published as a document of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).
The Ministry confirms that, indeed, the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities of the ACHPR visited Botswana in 2005 at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Botswana.
Following their visit, the Working Group published a draft report which was submitted to Government for its comments. The Government of Botswana submitted its response to the Working Group in May 2006.
The report of the Working Group with the Government’s comments incorporated is expected to be discussed by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in January 2007, as part of the ACHPR’s annual report to the Assembly.
The Ministry finds it strange that FPK and Survival International can claim to have seen a report purporting “to be highly critical of the Government treatment of the Bushmen, especially the Gana and Gwi of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR)” – a report which would be incomplete as far as the Ministry is concerned as it does not seem to have taken into account comments made by the Government of Botswana.
The Ministry strongly condemns the “leakage” of what can only be described as an incomplete report or a draft at best, by someone who is bent on some mischief intended to portray Botswana in bad light in the eyes of the International Community.┬á ┬á┬á
Clifford Maribe (Head of Research and Public Affairs ÔÇô Ministry of Foreign Affairs)