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Botswana court halts deportation of Namibians refugees
July 16, 2018
Botswana court halts deportation of Namibians refugees
Home Botswana court halts deportation of Namibians refugees

By Magreth Nunuhe & Mpho Tebele

Windhoek/Gaborone - Namibian refugees based at the Dukwi Refugee Camp in Botswana have successfully stopped the government of Botswana from deporting them after the deadline for their voluntary repatriation expired on Wednesday (11 July).

The remaining Namibian refugees (estimated at around 900) from the Zambezi Region (former Caprivi) in north-eastern Namibia are facing forced removal from Botswana but managed to interdict that decision through their lawyers, Dingake Law Partners.

Their lawyer, Martin Dingake told The Southern Times that the High Court has interdicted the government of Botswana from deporting the refugees until the matter is resolved amicably.

The refugees’ spokesperson, Felix Kakula, said they have learnt that the authorities intend to ferry them from Dukwi Refugee Camp to Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants, as they are no longer recognised as refugees.

Amnesty International (AI) has also appealed to the Botswana government to refrain from forcing refugees from Namibia back home.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, was quoted as saying the Namibian refugees should not be forced to return home if their personal safety cannot be guaranteed and if they may face human rights violations, which would breach international and national obligations under law.

This is not the first time that the Namibian refugees halted deportation. In 2016, the High Court in Botswana also halted the deportation of the 928 Namibian refugees.

About two weeks ago, 12 Namibian refugees were arrested in Gaborone’s Central Business District after they presented a petition to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat on behalf of the others at the camp.

The refugees stated in their petition to SADC that they would only return home if the Namibian government unbans the United Democratic Party (UDP), which is led by their exiled leader of the separatist movement in the former Caprivi region of Namibia, Mishake Muyongo.

The refugees want SADC to intervene and create a platform where the Namibian government would welcome them back to their country as UDP members.

They also want an undertaking from the government that they would not face any criminal charges, especially treason.

Over 3,000 Namibian refugees have been repatriated home since 2000.

As per the Tripartite Commission agreement, the UNHCR gives a voluntary repatriation package, which includes money and food for three months, while also monitoring and supervising the voluntary repatriation from the country of asylum to the country of origin.

Meanwhile, in Namibia, five members of the Caprivi Concerned Group, who are believed to be sympathisers of the banned UDP, were arrested last weekend for sedition, incitement of public violence and contravening Article 21 (2) of the Namibian Constitution, which deals with national security and public order.

The group wanted to hold a public meeting, but was arrested after refusing to follow police orders to disperse.

NamRights director, Phil ya Nangoloh, criticised the police action, saying it was an abuse of the human rights and dignity of those arrested.

“Police had no right to disrupt meetings if they are held without arms,” he retorted, adding that it would also put fears in the hearts of ‘Caprivian’ refugees in Botswana.

“You are allowed to advocate peacefully. Police must only be concerned if there are violent factions,” he lamented.

Ya Nangoloh stressed that his organisation was involved “for all practical reasons” and would see how they could get bail for those arrested.

Namibia’s Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Frans Kapofi said that Namibia was a unitary state and activities involving secessionism would not be tolerated. Kapofi said that the arrest of the Caprivi Concerned Group members should not put fears in those who want to return home as Namibia has already repatriated over 3,000 who have not been persecuted.

“If there are those who were involved in killings, they must face the law, but it has nothing to do with the majority,” he pointed out.

Kapofi revealed that they received 46 refugees this week and were repatriating more as they make themselves available.

“People are coming – the numbers are going down.

We have lived up to our promise. But we can’t force anybody who does not want to return,” he said.

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Source: Southern Times

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