STATEMENT: SALC CONDEMNS DEPORTATION OF REFUGEES FROM BOTSWANA

Salc : Staff Writer

06 November 2015

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) is deeply concerned about the safety of Ugandan refugees Musa Isabirye and Timothy Yamin who were deported to Uganda by Botswana Government last week.  They have previously been active in opposition politics in Uganda and could face persecution, imprisonment or torture there.  According to their legal representative Martin Dingake, “Their deportation took place in spite of a clear court order from the Botswana High Court interdicting such deportation. As a result the deportation is in flagrant contempt of the order of court and displays a shocking disregard by the Government of Botswana for the rule of law”.

In an affidavit filed this week, the Attorney General of Botswana accepts that he advised the Director of Immigration that any deportation of these individuals would be contrary to court interdict. The deportation was pursued regardless. Prior to the state’s unlawful deportation of Mr Isabirye and Mr Yamin, they were detained for a period of more than three months and repeatedly denied access to their families and legal representatives. The Botswana government has advanced no explanation for the withdrawal of their refugee status, detention and subsequent deportation. However, this treatment is believed to be as a result of their ongoing protests against both conditions at Dukwi Refugee Camp and the request to be resettled out of Botswana. These protests were directed at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Government of Botswana.

The state’s revocation of their refugee status was being challenged in the courts at the time of their deportation. Since their deportation Mr Isabirye and Mr Yamin’s families have not been able to contact them, and their legal team have been unable to confirm their safety. Mr Isabirye and Mr Yamin have resided in Botswana since 2000 and are both married with young children. As a result of their deportation they have now been separated from their young families.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre stated, “We are deeply concerned about the deportation of Mr Isabirye and Mr Yamin to a country where they could face persecution. The Botswana government has deported individuals deserving of international protection and in so doing have displayed no respect for the rule of law.”

 

For more information:

Martin Dingake, Attorney for Mr Isabirye and Mr Yamin  +267 3187557 dingakelm@dlp.co.bw

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director Southern Africa Litigation Centre + 27 84 514 8039 kaajalr@salc.org.za