Bushmen report further arrests, beatings

A Bushman human rights organisation today reported that at least ten men in Kaudwane resettlement camp have been arrested and beaten by wildlife officials for hunting.

At least one man, Motsoko Ramahoko, was tortured as officials attempted to force him to admit that he had been hunting without a permit.

Ramahoko was a witness in the landmark legal case in which the Botswana high court held that he and hundreds of other Bushmen had been evicted illegally from their land in the central Kalahari. The court also held that the government had broken the law in refusing to issue them with hunting permits.

Despite the ruling, at least 43 Bushmen have been arrested for hunting this year.

At the time of the December 2006 court judgment, Ramahoko told Survival, 'I am just so happy and I am wanting to go back to my land'. However, ten months later he and many others remain unable to return home.

Besides refusing to issue hunting permits, the government has refused to provide transport for the Bushmen to return. It has banned them from using their water borehole, and will not let them take their small numbers of livestock back with them.

Survival's Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Beatings by wildlife scouts used to be routine. They eased off around the time of the judgement, now they’re back. Not a single one has ever been properly investigated by the authorities. This makes of a mockery of the high court judgment, the government’s vote for the UN indigenous peoples’ declaration, and its declarations of respect for human rights. Botswana’s reputation sinks yet further and the country's non-Bushman NGOs remain silent.’

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