Home » News » General » Botswana’s biased laws irk UN

Botswana’s biased laws irk UN

Publishing Date : 09 July, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has come down hard on the Government of Botswana following the release of the 2018 UNHCR report which has portrayed Botswana in bad light over issues of ‘health, education and other basic liberties’ for refugees.


The report is a summary measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. The report measures development by combining indicators of life expectancy, education attainment, and income. The health component contains two indicators: Anti-Retroviral Therapy access and increased gender based violence.


In terms of the operation context, the report suggests that ever since stating their grievances eight years, refugees in Botswana have yet to see changes, as government has not acted on the issues. The refugees had wanted for government to provide for their basic liberties.
“The asylum space in Botswana remained limited due to the policies restricting refugees and asylum-seekers to Dukwi refugee camp. The strict encampment policy, coupled with the reservation to the right to work, hampered the self-reliance of people of concern and led to increased dependency and social challenges, including harmful coping mechanisms and increased sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV),” says the report.


It also continues to say that asylum-seekers have been detained at the Centres for Illegal Immigrants for indefinite periods of time. “UNHCR continued to advocate for fair and efficient asylum processes as well as the relocation of detained asylum-seekers to Dukwi camp.”
The population trends according to the study shows that in 2017, Botswana hosted 2,480 people of concern to UNHCR, consisting of 2,120 refugees, close to 70 asylum-seekers, and some 290 others of concern. They came mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia and Zimbabwe.


According to the statistics compiled by the organization, 348 refugees with HIV received antiretroviral treatment from donors (ART). “Medical care provided to people of concern by the Government did not include antiretroviral treatment,” stated the report. It further continues, “Refugees did not have access to machine readable convention travel documents, which affected particularly those with medical needs that required travel to outside of the country.”


Permanent Secretary at the ministry of defence justice and security Segakweng Tsiane has differed and agreed with the report. “The government offers refugees ART’s. In terms of education, at the convention we committed that we can only avail education up to basic level,” she said in a brief interview. The exclusion of refugees from the 2010-2015 national strategic plan for HIV and AIDS intervention has been cited as testimony of Botswana’s exclusivist policy regarding alien populations, in particular refugees.


In terms of education the organization is also irked by the stance taken by the government barring refugees from accessing higher schooling. “There is a lack of access to tertiary education for people of concern.” As it stands there are 21 refugee students at Nata Senior who will be sitting for the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) who are facing uncertainty to access tertiary education. UNHCR is also concerned by the fact that it was not able to identify a partner to provide legal support to refugees who are usually subjected to unjust treatment.


The only key achievement the UNHCR has managed to get the Government of Botswana to agree to is that it will review the Refugee and Control Act of 1968. Botswana has lagged behind in updating its Recognition and Control of Refugees’ Act, 1968 to align it with relevant international statutory provisions relating to the protection of asylum seekers and refugees, and asylum seekers in the country are having the worst of it.


Botswana has, however, maintained a hard line, and cites national security as a key factor inhibiting the country from updating existing refugee laws. Botswana’s policy of encampment of refugees, non-mandatory provision of ARV treatment and denial of employment for refugees is informed by the outdated piece of legislation.


As it stands 59 refugees departed under voluntary repatriation, while 12 refugees departed for resettlement. It is noted that 100% of refugees received their monthly food distribution. The refugees on annual basis cost UNHCR P10 million as they are given food rations, school uniform for kids and transport to school.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nations programme with the mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. UNHCR was created in 1950, during the aftermath of World War II. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland and it is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

Cartoon

Polls

Do you think the closure of BCL will compel SPEDU to double their efforts in creating job opportunities in the Selibe Phikwe?

banner_14.jpg
banner_12.jpg

POPULER BRANDS