NEWS 2005

 

BOTSWANA: Civic, human rights bodies slam academic's deportation


JOHANNESBURG, 7 June (IRIN) - Civic bodies and human rights groups in Botswana say the recent deportation of Australian-born academic Kenneth Good is a blot on the country's hard-won democracy.

Last Tuesday state security agents escorted Good out of the country to Johannesburg, where he caught a plane back to Australia, leaving behind his 17-year-old daughter.

The deportation order came into immediate effect after the High Court ruled that President Festus Mogae had not overstepped his presidential powers when he declared Good a prohibited immigrant earlier this year.

On 18 February Mogae gave the university lecturer 48 hours to leave Botswana for lambasting Mogae's decision to handpick Lieutenant-General Ian Khama as his successor and vice-president of the country.

Good co-authored a report called 'Presidential Succession in Botswana: No Model for Africa', which allegedly angered those close to both Mogae and Khama.

In separate statements released to the media on Monday, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Ditshwanelo) and the Botswana chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) said the deportation violated Good's constitutional rights to a fair trial, chiefly because the presidential decree could not be challenged in terms of the constitution.

Ditshwanelo called on the government to seriously commit itself to the provisions of the United Nations International Covenant and Civil Rights (ICCR), to which it is a party. The ICCR seeks to protect individual civic and political rights, and all signatory states are expected to recognise its provisions in drafting domestic laws relating to such liberties.

The organisation called for increased pressure on the government to redraft domestic human rights laws in line with the provisions of ICCR, which also outlaws rule by decree.

MISA-Botswana said Good's deportation was "contrary to the provisions of the country's Vision 2016", a national plan that calls for greater government transparency and accountability by then.

"What was even more disturbing were reports relating to how he was treated after the High Court order [upholding the deportation order]. He was treated like a dangerous criminal and denied access to his child and lawyers," MISA said.

During his tenure at University of Botswana, Good wrote a number of reports on politically sensitive issues, such as the alleged mistreatment of minority groups by the ruling party.

The opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) said there was a need to reform the constitution, in order to protect local and foreign citizens from "excessive, unquestionable and unconstitutional political powers".

Good's analysis of the country's political order was accurate, said the BNF, and presented no threat to national security.

However, the case may not be over yet, as Good's lawyers are reportedly preparing to take the matter to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights.