NEWS 2005


BOTSWANA: AU body calls for end to death penalty

GABORONE, 2 March (IRIN) - The African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) has called on Botswana to end its enforcement of "inhuman and degrading" corporal and capital punishment.

Bahame Nyanduga, who heads ACHPR, was in Botswana last week, where he said the country had yet to report to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the mechanisms it has put in place to promote and protect individual rights. The charter was established by the then Organisation of
African Unity in 1986.

"We have been trying to advise the Botswana government to look into the possibility of introducing other methods that are humane and less degrading, like community service," Nyanduga said.

By not making submissions, Botswana had failed to give the commission a better understanding of the problems it was encountering in trying to turn the provisions of the charter into reality, he commented. Countries that have ratified the charter are required to submit a report every two years on measures they have taken to implement ACHPR's provisions.

"Most African Union (AU) member states misconstrue the state reporting system as a forum meant to embarrass them," Nyanduga noted.

Botswana also owes reports to the UN conventions on the elimination of torture, as well as on racial discrimination, and civil and political rights.

Nyanduga pointed out that Botswana had ratified conventions which contravened the country's laws, as they ban the death penalty and corporal punishment.

The British government joined the ACHPR in criticising Botswana. David Merry, the British High Commissioner to Botswana, said his country and the European Union had been trying to persuade the government to end corporal punishment and the death penalty.

However, Botswana has defended its position on both issues, saying this was the will of its citizens.


IRIN - [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]