Republic of Botswana
Republic of Botswana
Joined United Nations: 17 October 1966
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 02 November 2012
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to
AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower
population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than
would otherwise be expected (July 2012 est.)
President indirectly elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second
term); Vice President appointed by the President; election last held
20 October 2009
Next scheduled election: October 2014
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
According to the Botswana constitution the President is both the
Chief of State and Head of Government
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Tswana (or Setswana) 79%, Kalanga 11%, Basarwa 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white 7%
Christian 71.6%, Badimo 6%, other 1.4%, unspecified 0.4%, none 20.6% (2001 census)
Parliamentary republic with 9 districts and 5 town councils; Legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and local customary law;
judicial review limited to matters of interpretation; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Executive :President indirectly elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 20 October 2009 (next to be held
in October 2014); Vice President appointed by the President
Legislative: Bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Chiefs (a largely advisory 15-member body with 8 permanent members
consisting of the chiefs of the principal tribes, and 7 non-permanent members serving 5-year terms, consisting of 4 elected subchiefs
and 3 members selected by the other 12 members) and the National Assembly (63 seats, 57 members are directly elected by
popular vote, 4 are appointed by the majority party, and 2, the President and Attorney-General, serve as ex-officio members;
members serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly elections last held 16 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014)
Judicial: High Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrates' Courts (one in each district)
Setswana 78.2%, Kalanga 7.9%, Sekgalagadi 2.8%, English 2.1% (official), other 8.6%, unspecified 0.4% (2001 census)
The Batswana (plural of "Motswana"), a term also used to denote all citizens of Botswana, refers to the country's major ethnic
group (called the "Tswana" in South Africa). Prior to European contact, the Batswana lived as herders and farmers under tribal rule.
In the late 19th century, hostilities broke out between the Shona inhabitants of Botswana and Ndebele tribes who were migrating
into the territory from the Kalahari Desert. Tensions also escalated with the Boer settlers from the Transvaal. After appeals by the
Batswana leaders Khama III, Bathoen and Sebele for assistance, the British Government on March 31, 1885 put "Bechuanaland"
under its protection. The northern territory remained under direct administration as the Bechuanaland Protectorate and is today's
Botswana, while the southern territory became part of the Cape Colony and is now part of the northwest province of South Africa;
the majority of Setswana-speaking people today live in South Africa. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 out of
the main British colonies in the region, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (the "High
Commission Territories") were not included, but provision was made for their later incorporation. However, a vague undertaking
was given to consult their inhabitants, and although successive South African governments sought to have the territories transferred,
Britain kept delaying, and it never occurred. The election of the National Party government in 1948, which instituted apartheid, and
South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961, ended any prospect of incorporation of the territories into South Africa.
An expansion of British central authority and the evolution of tribal government resulted in the 1920 establishment of two advisory
councils representing Africans and Europeans. Proclamations in 1934 regularized tribal rule and powers. A European-African
advisory council was formed in 1951, and the 1961 constitution established a consultative legislative council. In June 1964, Britain
accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana. The seat of government was moved from Mafikeng in South
Africa, to newly established Gaborone in 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence on
September 30, 1966. Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to the Ngwato chiefship,
was elected as the first president, re-elected twice, and died in office in 1980. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president,
Ketumile Masire, who was elected in his own right in 1984 and re-elected in 1989 and 1994. Masire retired from office in 1998.
The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, Festus Mogae, who was elected in his own right in 1999 and re-elected in
2004. He stepped down on 1 April 2008 turning the presidency over to his Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama who was
elected to continue in the post on 20 October 2009.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Botswana
Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. However, economic
growth was negative in 2009, with the industrial sector shrinking by 30%, after the global crisis reduced demand for Botswana's
diamonds. The economy has since recovered, with GDP growth in 2010 at 7.2% and estimated GDP growth in 2011 of 6.2%.
Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a
middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $16,300 in 2011. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best
credit risk in Africa. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP,
70-80% of export earnings, and about half of the government's revenues. Botswana's heavy reliance on a single luxury export was a
critical factor in the sharp economic contraction of 2009. Tourism, financial services, subsistence farming, and cattle raising are other
key sectors. Although unemployment was 7.5% in 2007 according to official reports, unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is second highest in the world and threatens Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected
leveling off in diamond mining production within the next two decades overshadows long-term prospects.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Botswana)
Botswana is formally a multiparty constitutional democracy. Each of the elections since independence in September 1966 has been
freely and fairly contested and has been held on schedule. The country's small white minority and other minorities participate freely
in the political process. There are two main rival parties and a number of smaller parties. However, Botswana is also a
dominant-party state in that the BDP has never lost power since independence. Some argue that the openness of the country's
political system has been a significant factor in Botswana's stability and economic growth. General elections are held at least every 5
The president has executive power and is chosen by the National Assembly following countrywide legislative elections. The cabinet
is selected by the president from the National Assembly; it consists of a vice president and a flexible number of ministers and
assistant ministers, currently 13 and 3, respectively.
The advisory House of Chiefs represents the eight principal subgroups of the Batswana people, and four other members are elected
by the subchiefs of four of the districts. A draft of any National Assembly bill of tribal concern must be referred to the House of
Chiefs for advisory opinion. Chiefs and other leaders preside over customary, traditional courts, though all persons have the right to
request that their case be considered under the formal British-based legal system.
The roots of Botswana's democracy lie in Setswana traditions, exemplified by the Kgotla, or village council, in which the powers of
traditional leaders are limited by custom and law.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Botswana
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Botswana
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Botswana has been a multiparty democracy since independence in 1966. Its constitution provides for indirect election of a president and
popular election of a National Assembly. In 2009 the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won the majority of parliamentary seats
in an election deemed generally free and fair. President Ian Khama, who has held the presidency since the resignation of President Festus
Mogae in 2008, retained his position. The BDP has held the presidency and a majority of National Assembly seats since independence.
Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The main human rights concerns during the year included violence against women and children, child labor in the form of cattle herding,
and discrimination against the San people.
Other human rights problems included overcrowded prison conditions and lengthy delays in the judicial process. Societal problems
included trafficking in persons.
The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, including prosecuting and convicting military officers for
murder. Impunity was generally not a problem.
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5 February 2010
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
18 January – 5 February 2010
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
2. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined initial, second and third periodic report, which followed
the Committee’s former guidelines for preparation of reports, but which was long overdue. The Committee also expresses its
appreciation to the State party for the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group.
3. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for the constructive dialogue and the efforts made by the delegation,
headed by the Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations, to respond to the questions raised by the Committee. It
notes that the delegation did not include, except for the Acting Director of Women Affairs Department within the Ministry of Labour and
Home Affairs, any representatives from other relevant ministries or offices, which limited the ability of the delegation to provide
succinct, clear and direct answers and left some of the questions raised by the Committee during the dialogue unanswered.
4. The Committee commends the State party for having acceded to the Convention without reservations in 1996 and for having acceded
to its Optional Protocol in 2007.
5. The Committee notes with appreciation the review by the State party in 1997 of existing legislation and the passing of new legislation
affecting the status of women with the view to align them with the provisions of the Convention. It particularly welcomes the
amendments made to the Citizenship Act of 1995 and 2003, the Mines and Quarries Act of 1996, the Criminal procedures and Evidence
Act of 1997, the Deed Registry Act of 1996, the Penal Code of 1998 and 2004, the Affiliations Proceedings Act of 1999, the Public
Service Act of 2000, the Marriage Act of 2001 and the Employment Act of 1996. It takes note with appreciation the enactment of the
Abolition of Marital Power Act in 2004 and the subsequent amendments to a number of statute laws to align them with the Abolition of
Marital Power Act.
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
7. The Committee recalls the State party’s obligation to implement, systematically and continuously, all the provisions of the Convention,
and views the concerns and recommendations identified in the present concluding observations as requiring the State party’s priority
attention between now and the submission of its next periodic report. Consequently, the Committee urges the State party to focus on
those areas in its implementation activities and to report on actions taken and results achieved in its next periodic report. It calls upon the
State party to submit the present concluding observations to all relevant ministries, to the Parliament and to the judiciary, so as to ensure
their full implementation.
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Botswanan Court Decision a Victory for Women’s Rights
Oct 12 2012 - 4:08pm
Freedom House applauds the recent decision by a Botswana High Court invalidating a customary law which prevents women from
inheriting property. This seminal judgment signifies an important step forward in the further development of Botswana’s democracy and
is a powerful precedent for the advancement of women’s rights in Southern Africa.
Following a five-year legal battle, a high court judge in Gaborone ruled that Edith Mmusi and her sisters had the legal right to inherit their
family’s property. Their claim was initially challenged by Ms. Mmusi’s half-brother who claimed rightful ownership of the property
under the area’s customary law, which provides only for inheritance by males. After initially losing their claim in a customary court in
2007, the plaintiffs appealed through the country’s civil court system. On Friday, the high court overturned the customary court’s
ruling, relying on Section 3 of Botswana’s constitution, which guarantees equal rights to all citizens and prohibits discrimination based on
gender. The case was brought to the high court with support from the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), a regional legal
organization based in South Africa.
Friday’s ruling signifies a growing trend in the region, as courts across Southern Africa grapple with the conflict between the rights of
women in customary law and the rights granted to women in common law and post-independence constitutions. In recent months, a
Constitutional Court in Lesotho heard a case by a female chief challenging the discriminatory laws on succession, and Swaziland passed
a progressive law prohibiting child brides. Legal experts have applauded the Botswana ruling, asserting that it provides women’s rights
advocates an important legal precedent to protect the rights of women throughout Southern Africa. For the past several years, Freedom
House has actively supported important public interest litigation similar to the case in Botswana by lawyers and civil society to advance
the cause of human rights throughout Southern Africa.
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Suggested recommendations to States considered in the 15th round of the Universal Periodic Review, 21 January – 1 February
19 November 2012
Recommendations to the government of Botswana
The death penalty
To immediately establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, in line with UN General Assembly
resolutions 62/149 of 18 December 2007, 63/168 of 18 December 2008 and 65/206 of 21 December 2010;
To commute without delay all death sentences to terms of imprisonment;
To ratify without reservations the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, aiming at abolition of the death penalty;
To progressively reduce the number of offences which provide for the death penalty, in particular by removing all capital crimes
which do not involve intentional killing [such as treason, espionage, piracy or crimes under military law;
Pending full abolition of the death penalty, to ensure rigorous compliance in all death penalty cases with international standards for fair
Pending full abolition of the death penalty, to ensure complete transparency in its use of the death penalty, by making publicly available
relevant information, as well as by providing, in advance, convicted persons, their families and their lawyers, with adequate information
about pending executions, and to return, if requested, the bodies of those who have been executed to the family for burial or to inform on
where the body is located.
Ratification of international human rights treaties
To ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Optional Protocol and opt-in to the inquiry and
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Letter to ICC Prosecutor on the Court's Relationship with Africa
November 15, 2012
We, the undersigned African civil society organizations and international nongovernmental organizations with a presence in Africa, write
to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Office of the Prosecutor
(OTP) is a cornerstone of the ICC and we have confidence that it will benefit from your skills, experience, and demeanor. We are
looking forward to your leadership and guidance in the work of the office.
As you know, a critical challenge for the OTP, and the ICC more generally, is its relationship with Africa, and particularly the African
Union (AU). Many of our organizations campaigned for the establishment of the ICC. Over the past several years we also have engaged
in collective advocacy to counter backlash against the ICC from some African leaders, which has emanated largely from the AU
following ICC arrest warrants for the Sudanese president. Our organizations, which are based in many of Africa’s capitals, have issued
group declarations, news releases, and analyses on shared concerns such as the need for an ICC liaison office with the AU in Addis
Ababa and AU decisions calling for non-cooperation with the ICC. We have worked closely with African media to draw attention to
anticipated travel by al-Bashir to countries that should arrest him, which has sometimes contributed to canceled visits, and to provide a
more balanced view on Africa’s relationship with the ICC in news stories.
Despite tensions between the ICC and the AU, there also have been recent indications of the more positive view of the ICC among
African governments. As you know, Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, made it clear in May 2012 that Malawi would fulfill its ICC
obligations and arrest al-Bashir if he attended the African Union Summit there. Other states—including Botswana, South Africa, Burkina
Faso, and Niger—also have reaffirmed publicly the need to arrest ICC suspects on their territories.
We believe these developments reinforce that opportunities exist for the OTP to work with African governments on promoting a
principled, supportive relationship between the AU and the ICC. In this context, we would like to make several recommendations for
your work, which we believe will help promote the court’s effective functioning and work in Africa.
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2012 State of the Nation Address
1. Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to once again inform the nation on where we are in our journey to continuously improve the lives of
Batswana. But, before I do so, let me take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence of the new Member for Mahalapye West, the
Honourable Bernard Bolele. You are most welcome sir.
2. Last Saturday’s bye-election was of course necessitated by the retirement of the former Vice President and Leader of this House, Lt.
General Mompati Merafhe. One of our nation’s true founding statesmen, his five decades of outstanding public service is an example of
3. While the development of any democracy is an evolutionary process, today I am pleased to re-affirm that our own progress is on
track, being marked by realistic milestones towards realizable goals. Yet, in measuring our path, we are aware that even though we have
come far we still have farther to go. As citizens it is our responsibility, as well as our right, to seek a brighter future for ourselves and
4. The roadmap to a better Botswana is contained in our Long-term Vision and the 10th National Development Plan, which are supported
by flagship programmes for sustainable economic diversification, poverty eradication and citizen empowerment, including the youth.
5. This administration’s implementation efforts are further guided by adherence to the “5Ds”, which can be summarised as our pledge to
achieve a dignified life for all Batswana through the delivery of sustainable economic development, driven by a culture of democratic
accountability and rooted in a renewed sense of social discipline. Here we recognise that sustainable development is not only measured in
the delivery of physical infrastructure. More fundamentally, it is about ensuring that our human resources, that is our people, have the
skills and opportunities to achieve a dignified life. It is for this reason that poverty eradication and youth development and empowerment
are a special priority.
6. By definition, people centred development must be people driven. This is why a vibrant democracy is not just about the details of
elections; it is also about constantly engaging the public. By interacting with Batswana through various public fora, including dikgotla and
the convening of over 50 dipitso since April 2012, we are able to address their real life concerns. Our interactive commitment is further
reflected in our electronic outreach through websites, social media, and the provision of toll free numbers across Government.
Consultation through diverse platforms thus remains at the centre of our good governance practice.
7. Our commitment to Dignity is further reflected in our interventions on behalf of those with special needs such as people living with
disabilities, orphans and those with chronic health conditions, as well as the less fortunate in general. It also causes us to focus more
proactively on the needs of Remote Area Communities.
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DITSHWANELO Press Statement on the International Day for Eradication of Poverty
17 October 2012
DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights joins with the rest of the world in observing the International Day for the
Eradication of Poverty on 17 October 2012.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed annually, since 1993. The aim of the Day is to promote
awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries. The theme this year is ‘Working together out of poverty’.It
has been recognised that there is a need for global anti-poverty alliances between developed and developing countries. One of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDG), to which Botswana has committed herself, is the eradication of poverty and hunger by 2015.
According to the UN MDG Report 2012, the global target of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2015 has already been reached.
Extreme poverty is reported to be falling in every region of the world.
In 2009, The Government of Botswana shifted its official policy of poverty reduction to poverty eradication and launched an economic
diversification drive (EDD). The goal is to eradicate absolute poverty through economic diversification by 2016. According to the
Botswana Core Welfare Indicators Survey (BCWIS), poverty has been reduced from 59% of the population in 1985/86 to 20.7% in
2009/10. The Office of the President has taken charge of the coordination of the national poverty eradication agenda and new efforts to
boost rural development aim at lifting more rural poor out of poverty. These efforts are in line with the commendable commitment of
Government towards people-centered sustainable development.
In their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Stakeholder Report 2012, The Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations
(BOCONGO), LeGaBiBo (Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana), Rainbow Identity and DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre
for Human Rights, have called upon the Government of Botswana to consider inviting Ms Magdalena Sepulveda, the UN Special
Rapporteur on the Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Human Rights for a country visit.
Southern African countries which have already been visited by the UN Special Rapporteur, Ms Sepulveda, are Zambia (2009) and
Namibia (October 2012).
Botswana is in a position to share its achievements in engaging with the question of poverty. The reported reduction in poverty levels
reflects the ‘renewed moral commitment to eradicate absolute poverty’ which was declared by President Khama in the State of the
Nation Address on 8 November 2010. A visit of the UN Special Rapporteur, Sepulveda, to seek further guidance and support would be a
positive indication of this commitment.
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Ombudsman office open to all
29 November, 2012
GABORONE - The office of the Ombudsman exists to investigate cases of maladministration in the public sector, and is open to all
members of the public.
In her first ever address to the media as the Ombudsman of the Republic of Botswana, Mrs Festinah Bakwena said her office accepted
complaints from all members of the public, including those in incarceration.
Complaints can be about decisions or actions taken by people in the public service and government owned entities such as parastatal
Mrs Bakwena said the idea behind the Ombudsman institution was to help improve public administration through investigation of
To that end, the office tested administrative practices and decisions against rules, regulations, established practices and policies.
She said these instruments were made to ensure fairness, transparency and quality service delivery for the benefit of the customer.
Thus in investigating, the Ombudsman had to determine if the action or decision that forms the basis of the complaint was taken in
accordance with laid down rules and regulations.
Mrs Bakwena said should the Office determine that the complainant had suffered injustice it would recommend remedial action.
Furthermore, the Ombudsman would advise the offending department if the action was without merit.
She noted that her office had no powers to prosecute people except make recommendations to the relevant government office. The
office also has no power to enforce its recommendations.
However, where a government office or officer remained recalcitrant, the Office of Ombudsman would refer its recommendation to
She said since they opened their doors to the public in 1997, they have received a growing number of complaints from the public.
For example in its first year, the office received only 60 cases, but in the 2010/11 reporting year, it had 1 125 cases to arbitrate.
Mrs Bakwena also explained that the length of an investigation was determined by a number of factors, including the complexity of the
A case could take anything from one month to 10 months, she said.
Mrs Bakwena pointed out that they would conduct a public education road show with a view to sensitising the public about the existence
and mandate of the office. The road show, which started yesterday, ends on December 9.
She said the road show came after realisation that many people still did not know about the office.BOPA
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Seretse Khama Ian Khama
President since 1 April 2008
Vice President since 1 April 2008