Bushmen arrested and beaten despite court ruling

February 13, 2007

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Six Bushmen have been arrested, starved and held for six days after police and wildlife guards accused them of hunting in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. They were then released without charge.

The arrests come only two months after the Bushmen’s landmark court victory.

The men were refused food for four days and were threatened at gunpoint by police. One of the men and his wife were beaten up after refusing to let wildlife scouts and police search their home without a warrant.

Botswana's High Court ruled in December that the Botswana government's refusal to issue Bushmen with hunting licences for the game reserve was unlawful and unconstitutional. It also ruled that the Bushmen have the constitutional right to remain on their ancestral land and that their eviction by the Botswana government in 2002 was against the law.

Survival International's Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘It’s time for Botswana's government to take control of its police and wildlife guards and stop them abusing the Bushmen. We welcome the release of these men without charge, but if this mistreatment doesn’t stop, Botswana's reputation is bound to take another nosedive.’

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