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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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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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