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Masisi explains Botswana’s undying support for ICC

Since 2009, several African countries have been threatening to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) en-masse, but to date not a single one of them has filed for immediate withdrawal. In fact, at the closure of the 27th African Union summit on Monday this week, in Rwanda, observers say no country had reportedly made a call for such an action.

At the face of a strong campaign of withdrawal from countries such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Senegal and others, Botswana’s Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi found himself having to defend Botswana’s position before the press instead.

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, Masisi defended the much abhorred court among African heads of states as a justified court.

“The best defence is not to abuse but stick to the law,” Masisi was quoted as having stated during the interview at the summit. He is said to have added that, “We would never allow our president to get away with murder. We are not being prescriptive; we are just asking that we up the game.”

Botswana has always maintained her position on ICC even though many other African countries are of the view that the court is biased against Africans. All 23 cases brought before the court have been against Africans, a record that has fuelled their anger to want out of the ICC. But Masisi stuck to the Setswana phrase of ntwakgolo ke ya molomo, “Our entrenched democratic dispensation instructs us that there are limits to power and we respect that. The test to limits to power is through open, free and fair elections. When there is strife or discomfort it affects your neighbours and the region, it affects trade, it affects prosperity and the potential for it.”

Meanwhile, in her speech during the commemoration of day of criminal Justice, ICC President, Judge Silvia Fernandez suggested that in the years since the ICC has grown into a robust judicial institution, convictions have been handed down for the use of child soldiers, murder, and sexual violence. Fernandez further maintains that the ICC has ensured the participation of thirteen thousand victims in its cases and that the Office of the Prosecutor has opened investigations in 10 situations and is analysing many other conflicts on different continents.

“More than one-hundred and eighty thousand victims have benefited from the assistance programmes of the ICC's Trust Fund for Victims. But atrocious crimes still occur. Much more work is needed. Therefore, on 17 July, on the anniversary of the Rome Statute and International Criminal Justice Day, we call again for solidarity in working to make justice effective and ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished,” she explained.

ICC was formed 18 years ago in Rome by world states and it boasts of 60 member states. Its aim is to bring to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

However, not all the member states who have ratified the statute have always honoured its warrants-some African members have declined to arrest visiting Sudanese President, Omar al Bashir who the court has indicted on charges of genocide.

The ICC does not have a police force of its own and since it relies entirely on the cooperation of states and organisations to investigate and prosecute perpetrators and to ensure access of victims to justice, Fernandez has called on members states to cooperate including in arresting suspects, gathering and preservation of evidence, protect witnesses, and enforce ICC sentences.
“We need global support from states yet to ratify the Rome Statute, from states that have ratified, as well as from all those who stand against injustice,” Fernandez further said.

The Rome Statute which forms the ICC allows for states to withdraw from the court. Withdrawal takes effect one year after notification of the depositary, and has no effect on prosecution that has already started. Information retrieved from the ICC website suggests that as of now no state had withdrawn from the statute as yet.

The Rome Statute is a treaty that establishes the ICC an international court that has jurisdiction over certain international crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that are commonly committed by nationals of state members or within the territory of such countries. The country members are legally obligated to co-operate with the court when it requires such as in arresting and transferring indicted persons or providing access to evidence and witnesses.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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