On Monday, African Court on Human and People’s Rights Judge Dumisa Ntsebeza and Cherie Blair, a human rights lawyer in Geneva, briefed diplomats on “the key rule of law concerns emanating from State House in Gaborone”.
They said Botswana was experiencing “a backsliding on civil and political rights”, leading to “anti-democratic repression and a rising tide of political persecution and violence”.
Ntsebeza said President Mokgweetsi Masisi was using threats and lawfare to harass the opposition and media ahead of presidential elections due next year.
He added an issue worth taking seriously was Masisi’s links with South African civic society group AfriForum which he said was pushing a racist-apartheid policy.
“… I find it abhorrent that a neighbour to South Africa would so closely associate itself with a discredited organisation that purveys such a toxic philosophy.”
AfriForum was roped in to assist Botswana in the infamous “Butterfly” case where Khama, Motsepe and Maswabi were accused of allegedly stealing P100 billion from the Bank of Botswana.
They were cleared of any wrongdoing linked to money laundering – in an investigation commissioned and paid for by Motsepe-Radebe.
In 2020, global law firm Omnia Strategy, led by Blair, found allegations contained in an affidavit by an investigator in Botswana’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, Jako Hubona, were false.
She said the UPR was a wake-up call for the state in Botswana to move away from petty and personal politics.
“It’s a wake-up call for Botswana to restore its reputation as one of Africa’s most stable democracies.”
The UPR involved a review of the human rights records of all UN member states.
It was a state-driven process, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, which provided the opportunity for each state to declare what actions they had taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
The UPR for Botswana was conducted in the aftermath of harsh criticism of the country’s declining human rights record.
International civil rights organisations recently demoted Botswana’s human rights protection status from “narrowed”, which it shared with countries such as France, South Korea, and Spain, to the more worrisome “obstructed” category.
The US State Department identified significant human rights issues in its 2022 Country Report on Botswana, highlighting examples of the arbitrary arrest of opposition political figures, and abuses committed by members of the security forces, including the dispersal of peaceful protests.