Botswana Defies African Commission Ruling
Statements by Botswana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs indicating that Botswana will not comply with a recent ruling by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights imperils Botswana’s standing as a model of good governance in the region says the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). The African Commission’s recent ruling recommends that Botswana pay Professor Kenneth Good compensation for the loss incurred as a result of the unfair termination of his employment and his unlawful expulsion. It also urged Botswana to ensure that its immigration laws conform to international human rights standards.
Botswana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs is on record as having said: “We are not going to follow on the recommendation made by the Commission. It does not give orders and it is not a court. We are not going to listen to them. We will not compensate Mr. Good.” This is the second time that Botswana has disregarded an African Commission ruling, having done so in respect of the 2000 Modise case, also involving citizenship and immigration issues.
Professor Good, an Australian national, was deported from Botswana to South Africa in May 2005 after he had been declared an undesirable inhabitant of the country by then President Festus Mogae. Professor Good, then a professor of political studies at the University of Botswana, had co-authored an article critical of the government concluding that Botswana was a poor example of African presidential succession. He lost cases challenging his expulsion in the Botswana High Court and Court of Appeal, leaving no further avenue for relief within the country. With support from SALC and Interights, and with Anton Katz and Max du Plessis acting as counsel, Professor Good approached the African Commission for redress.
The Commission found that Botswana had violated several provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) by which Botswana is bound as a state party. In particular the Commission ruled that Botswana had violated articles prohibiting discrimination, protecting freedom of information and expression as well as protecting legally admitted non-nationals and their right to be heard.
SALC Project lawyer, Lloyd Kuveya, said that “Botswana’s posture of non-compliance might be expected of a recalcitrant state like Zimbabwe, which has consistently defied SADC Tribunal decisions, but not Botswana which receives much favourable coverage for its record of good governance and commitment to the rule of law.”
SALC urges Botswana to adhere to the decision of the African Commission. Failure to do so will undermine its democratic credentials and legitimacy in the eyes of its people and the global community.