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The Southern Africa Litigation Centre condemns the government of Botswana’s victimisation of Kgosi Mosadi Seboko

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The Southern Africa Litigation Centre condemns in the strongest possible terms the government of Botswana’s cruel and unjust treatment of Kgosi Mosadi Seboko, the paramount chief of the Bamalete tribe, – after the Botswana Court of Appeal ruled that she, together with the Bamalete tribe were indeed the rightful owners of Forest Hill Farm and that the government’s attempt to compulsorily acquire this farm in a discriminatory manner without any consultation or consent was not only unconstitutional but amounted to an unlawful deprivation of property.

The government of Botswana’s recent removal of Kgosi Mosadi Seboko from the Pan-African Parliament and, consequently, her proposed replacement based on an unfounded allegation that she had resigned and had expressed a desire to be excused from continued service at the Pan-African Parliament is not only contrary to the law regulating elections to the Pan-African Parliament but also profoundly alarming, given that Botswana will in 2024 embark on an electoral process where a free debate of ideas should flourish.

The government’s victimisation of Kgosi Mosadi Seboko right after her victory in the Court of Appealis indicative of a trend across many nations worldwide of governments’ broader efforts to silence, dismantle, restrict, stigmatise and discriminate against critical voices.

We call for the government of Botswana to end the victimisation of Kgosi Mosadi Seboko, both of which violate the Constitution and undermine Botswana’s obligation under international law. Botswana’s government is obligated to protect its citizens, including Kgosi Mosadi Seboko. This duty flows from the Constitution-for instance, the Constitution places an obligation on the state to protect the citizen’s rights to equality, human dignity, freedom and security of the person, privacy, freedom of expression, assembly and association and is also an international obligation.

Furthermore, Botswana is a party to several international and regional human rights instruments that prohibit the repression of citizens. Notably,  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders provide that “everyone has the right, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”. This declaration places an obligation on the government of Botswana to create conditions necessary to ensure that all persons can enjoy all those rights and freedoms.