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Masisi breaks tradition in appointment of CJ

Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi says that has confirmed the appointment of Justice Terence Rannowane as the Chief Justice.

Yesterday, President Mokgweetsi Masisi appointed Justice Terence Rannowane the new Chief Justice (CJ), a nephew to the outgoing Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo. Dibotelo is retiring from the office at the end of this month (April 2018).
Morupisi confirmed that Judge Dibotelo and Judge Rannowane are both from Thamaga village, and judge Dibotelo is judge Rannowane’s uncle.

 The PSP said people should not read much into the relations of the two justices. In an interview Morupisi told this publication that, “It doesn’t matter at all. It is nothing. It has got no base,” he said, adding that, they cannot deny someone the opportunity because he is from the same village and or related to his predecessor.

 “We look at the objectives: qualifications, length of service, integrity etc….Former CJ does not play a part in the appointment.” Quizzed whether the Office of the President (OP) knew the two were relatives at the time of the appointment, Morupisi’s response was that, “It is obvious, Akere they are from the same village.”

Judge Rannowane was appointed as a judge of the High Court in 2008. He has 28 years of experience service in the judiciary and has been assigned different roles amongst which he chaired the Delimitation Commission in 2012.
Justice Rannowane also serves as chairman of the National Parole Board. He holds a Law Degree (LLB) from the University of Botswana obtained in 1990 and a Master of Laws Degree (LLM) from the University of Warwick from the United Kingdom obtained in 2003.

The general practice on the appointment of the Chief Justice has been such that the most senior Judge takes the position. However Rannowane’s appointment breaks this tradition because Justices Makhwade, Tafa, and Letsididi are senior to him. Justice Makhwade was recently appointed to the Court of Appeal recently through Justice Dibotelo’s recommendation.

Meanwhile, Justice Rannowane has a pending case before the court in which has dragged government to court over an audit report suggesting that he drew housing allowance he was not entitled to. His contention was that the audit report be set aside because he insists that he does not owe the Administration of Justice, saying he was entitled to the allowances they received.

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Boko’s rivals plan new party

15th August 2022

Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.

According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign. 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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