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Botswana adopts universal jurisdiction

Botswana has domesticated the Rome Statute following an overwhelming support to a Bill presented by the Minister Defence Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi. Through this law, Botswana, a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC), would see the Rome Statute have a direct effect on its national laws.

 

One of the principal obligations is for Botswana to domesticate the Statute by legislating, so that the Statute could have direct effect in its national laws. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was ratified by Botswana on the 8th of September 2000. By ratifying the Rome Statute Botswana became one of the first 60 countries that contributed to the entry into force of the Statute. The Rome Statute provides for the prosecution of the core international crimes which are genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

 

The Rome Statute also provides for the cooperation of states of the International Criminal Court whose seat is in the Hague in the Netherlands. Botswana as a State Party to the Rome Statute will by enacting this law to conform to and implement her obligations as set out under the Rome Statute. Botswana is one of the active supporters of the court and has at all times cooperated with the court in executing its mandate as set out in the Rome Statute.


 

Minister Kgathi has told Parliament that the Rome Statute does something “very, very new. One, is that it introduces the concepts of command responsibility. You cannot sit in your office as a President or a General and say, “I was not there” if that army was under your control. Therefore, it actually kills probably for the first time, the shield that, “it was not me, it was the soldiers,” command responsibility. That is a very important introduction in our jurisdiction.”

 

The Minister also explained that domestication of the Rome Statute actually lifts Diplomatic immunity. “If you run to a country after killing your people, in whatever country, you cannot say I am Diplomat, you cannot say, “I am the President,” it lifts for the first time. Actually the Diplomatic immunity says, it does not matter who you are. If you killed people, if you committed these grave offences, and we are talking about genocides, crimes against humanity, war crimes, they will prosecute you. They do not care what position you actually hold where you come from.”

 

Kgathi said the most important introduction is what is called universal jurisdiction. “In almost every country in the world your jurisdiction is limited to the four corners of your own country. The Rome Statute and this Bill before us for the first time introduces under criminal law, universal jurisdiction. If you commit an offence here or you commit it anywhere else, we will prosecute you. You cannot say, “no I did not do it in Botswana and therefore I killed them in whatever country I would not name, it was not here.”

If nobody else is going to prosecute you, Botswana is saying, I am going to prosecute you and many other countries are saying you cannot use the political borders as a shield, that, “I am not your citizen and you cannot prosecute me.” Therefore I think we stand at the crossroads of history. We can decide, there are many people who after signing the Convention, the Treaty in Rome, now, “say we do not like it anymore,” explained Kgathi.

 

The Minister said most of these countries have attacked the court for having inducted sitting African Heads of State including the Sudanese President Al-Bashir. In the midst of all these un-warranted attacks and criticism against the court, Botswana has remained steadfast in its commitment to the Rome Statute and support for the court. Given the active commitment and support it gives to the court, it is important that Botswana domesticates the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

 

Kgathi said crimes covered under the Act include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It also sets out the responsibility of commanders and other superiors for offences committed by forces under their effective command and control. It further provides that the Prescriptions Act or any other statutory limitation shall not be applicable to offences committed under this Act.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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