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Caprivian refugees’ repatriation saga intensifies

By Risco Lumamezi

THE Botswana Authority started moving Caprivian refugees from Dukwi Camp to Gerald Center for illegal Immigrants in Francis Town, after they refused to register for voluntary repatriation on the deadline marked August 31, 2019.

Privy sources in Dukwi Camp have disclosed that since last Friday morning, a mob of security forces swept through the tents and arrested the spokesperson of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Mr. Felix Kakula and others, forcibly and loaded their families and goods in the trucks while relocating them to Gerald Center where they have been detained awaiting to be deported back to Namibia this week.

Botswana Security Forces forcibly arresting Caprivian refugees in Dukwi Camp

Dukwi Camp Manager, Mr. Moses Mochabo told Caprivi Vision on Sunday that very soon the government of Botswana will deport all Caprivian refugees to Namibia as an exercise to honour tripartite agreement.

Mr. Mochabo denied allegations of arrests and detentions of Caprivian refugees saying he was not aware.

Efforts to hear from the Minister of Justice, Defence and Security Mr. Shaw Khati and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Botswana proved futile as they were not available for comments.

Human rights groups in Botswana and Namibia have co-opted denouncing the move by Botswana authority as violation of human rights and international law.

Human  rights watchdogs have strongly  rejected  and condemned mass deportation of Caprivi Strip refugees by Botswana government in Gaborone as illegal.

Though, human rights defenders have expressed dissatisfaction to the lack of remedy to institute an urgent court interdict in stopping the mass deportation in local courts in Botswana.

And they described it as a worrisome situation that the Botswana court of appeal which is the highest court ruled out in favour of the government in ceasing their refugee status after December 31, 2015.

They however, argued that the Botswana Court of Appeal did not give powers to the Botswana government to deport refugees, but the court ordered that government has responsibility to determine the cessation clause.

“our leaders were beaten, bruised, handcuffed, forced to sign for deportation, thrown in the police cars with their families taken to Gerald” said a source who opted to remain anonymous.

“Mochabo told us that the people who are at Gerald their journey will start on Wednesday without their properties”

Privy sources further said that Mr.Kakula who was detained in isolation cell was rejoined with fellow detainees in Gerald Center for illegal Immigrants yesterday.

According to the court Judgment delivered in an Open Court at Gaborone on July 26, 2019 by Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Botswana reads that “Turning back to the fourth ground of appeal in relation to the order granted requiring compliance with the Order granted in the December 2015 application, that too has some merit. It is trite that in motion proceedings the case is determined on the respondents factual averments together with the undisputed averments of the applicant save where the respondents’ factual averments are clearly without substance.”

“The averment by the minister on behalf of the Appellants quite clearly  point to a concerted effort by the Government of Botswana  and to a large extent  by the other  members of the Tripartite Commission  to ensure that the  Go and See ,Come and Tell Missions are successfully  carried out to assist those refugees who may  be willing  to voluntarily repatriate to obtain  satisfaction  that their  safety and security will be respected  by  their  home  country . Those averments are not farfetched. On the other hand”

The court judgement also interpreted that the Botswana government authorities were keen to move forward the repatriation process in a way which incorporates “Go and See, Come and Tell Missions”, the refugees through their leaders, were adamant that they did not want to deal with the Tripartite Commission in any way and would not enter into any repatriation process involving the Commission.

“Other than the grounds earlier discussed one of their main grounds for refusing to do so were that in an earlier mission some of their members who were part of the mission were forced to leave Namibia at gun point.” quoted the court judgement.

Caprivi Vision understands that more than 753 remaining Namibian refugees in Dukwi refugee camp are members of the UDP from the former Caprivi Region, and have refused voluntary repatriation deal supervised by the Tripartite Commission which composed of Botswana, UNHCR and Namibia.

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