UN human rights committee criticises Botswana over Bushman issue

April 3, 2008

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The UN Human Rights Committee has criticised Botswana’s government over its treatment of the Bushmen. The committee urged Botswana to ensure that ‘all persons who were relocated are granted the right to return to the CKGR (Central Kalahari Game Reserve)’.

The government has so far only allowed those few Bushmen named in the Botswana High Court case, which the Bushmen won in 2006, to return to live in the CKGR; hundreds of others are forced to apply for permits. The government has also barred the Bushmen from using the water borehole which was a vital source of water in the dry season, and will not allow hunting in the CKGR.

The committee, the UN’s top human rights body, expressed its ‘concern’ that ‘the right to return is conditional on providing identity documents prior to entering the CKGR, obtaining Special Game Licences to hunt and that the State party will not provide access to ground-water for such persons.’

The conclusions of the Human Rights Committee come shortly after a United States Department of State report condemned the Botswana government’s ‘narrow interpretation’ of the 2006 High Court ruling.

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