African human rights watchdog slams Botswana’s treatment of Bushmen

October 17, 2006

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The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ (ACHPR), the continent’s top human rights body, is about to publish its report on Indigenous peoples in Botswana. It is highly critical of the government’s treatment of Bushmen, especially the Gana and Gwi of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

The report states that the Botswana government used physical force and ‘coercion and intimidation’ to evict Bushmen from the reserve, and recommends that the government allow people who wish to go home to do so.

It strongly condemns the government’s development model for the Gana and Gwi Bushmen. ‘[The resettlement camps] looked like abandoned mine camps with little or no economic activity. At both camps, alcohol abuse was visible from the many people (old and young) seen drunk… The settlements do not provide any visitor with a sense of hope and future for the residents.’

Racism towards Bushmen is highlighted: ‘Botswana has adopted a rather dangerous attitude towards the question of Indigenous populations… [Bushmen] face discimination through laws and government policies and such discimination is manifested even by high ranking public officials.’

The mission expressed concern about land rights, noting that of all the tribes, ‘the Basarwa [Bushmen] are the only ones that do not have any communal land to call their own.’ It recommends that Bushmen should have communal land rights as ‘this is crucial for them to sustain their livelihood’.

For more information contact Miriam Ross on +44 (0)20 7687 8734 or [email protected]