United States Embassy’s Public Relations Officer, John Warner, has defended his embassy’s failure to appear before the Industrial Court on the set dates in a matter in which their employee, Douglas Seotlwe, is claiming that he was not paid in accordance with laws of Botswana.
Warner, who describes Seotlwe as an employee who works on an “as needed basis only” and not full time employee, says their inability to appear before the Court was caused by the fact that the legal action against them was not properly served in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Residents to which both Botswana and USA are parties.
Warner also said that they have written several letters to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via Diplomatic notes reminding them that under customary international laws, a foreign sovereign state must be afforded 60 days notice before being summoned before a Court or a tribunal but that they were not afforded this and as such USA was not provided opportunity to appear before the Court to present its defence.
Despite this, he said that they are continuing to liase with the Ministry on the case in order to resolve the case amicably. Legal representative at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was not available to comment on the issue.
Seotlwe’s claims against the US embassy are that the embassy failed to pay his sick leave days as well as for public holidays as should have been the case. He also disputes that the US Embassy was never served by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, saying that records show that they were served on 28 September 2012 but never responded.
In a similar case last year, a handful of Batswana sued the embassy for similar reasons of failure to pay employees in accordance with the laws of Botswana. US embassy again failed to appear in the High Court and a Court order was issued against the embassy ordering a deputy sheriff to attach their goods and they complied and paid.