Botswana

300

Immigration detainees

2021

70

Detained children

2018

334

New asylum applications

2020

637

Refugees

2020

110,268

International migrants

2020

Overview

(June 2009) Botswana has traditionally been considered a welcoming country for immigrants, attracting skilled workers from neighbouring countries. However, since the early 2000s, there have been growing tensions as the number of immigrants from Zimbabwe has risen precipitously. By 2004, the country was deporting some 2,500 irregular Zimbabweans per month.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

02 September 2020

Gerald Estates Centre for Illegal Immigrants, Google Maps, accessed on 2 September 2020, http://tiny.cc/tz7rsz
Gerald Estates Centre for Illegal Immigrants, Google Maps, accessed on 2 September 2020, http://tiny.cc/tz7rsz

Botswana, which has long operated a “Centre for Illegal Migrants” at Francistown near the border with Zimbabwe and a refugee camp in Dukwi, has struggled in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, repeatedly shutting down various regions of the country as cases have spread. While there appears to be little public information about whether measures were implemented at the Centre for Illegal Migrants to prevent the spread of the infection, UNHCR has provided some details about the situation at the Dukwi camp. The UN refugee agency reports that since 1 April, more than 1,000 of refugees living in the camp have “benefited from risk communication and upgraded health and sanitation systems, in line with the international guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” There has also been some information about Covid-19 response in prisons. Prison visits were suspended on 24 March and resumed on 1 June. According to one press account, when she announced the resumption of some services at prisons, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice, and Security Matshidiso Bokole said that although “prison visits would commence” they would be “restricted to one visitor per prisoner per day for remands and illegal immigrants, while convicts would be allowed one visitor per month” (Botswana Daily News, 1 June 2020). The government announced the release of more than a hundred prisoners in mid April. A month later, 15 Zimbabwean prisoners were released and deported to Zimbabwe. During a 24 July 2020 press conference, the prison commission said that currently there were “3,729 inmates and two kids, against the prisons’ holding capacity of 4,337 and this gave an under crowding status of 14 per cent, which enabled them to observe the Covid-19 safety regulations” (Botswana Daily News, 26 July 2020).


Last updated: June 2009

Botswana Immigration Detention Profile

Botswana has traditionally been considered a welcoming country for immigrants, attracting skilled workers from neighbouring countries. However, since the early 2000s, there have been growing tensions as the number of immigrants from Zimbabwe has risen precipitously. By 2004, the country was deporting some 2,500 irregular Zimbabweans per month. The government also began implementing harsher legal penalties, including larger fines and the possibility of prison sentences for irregular immigrants (Ditshwanelo 2006).

Botswana has one official migrant detention facility, the Centre for Illegal Immigrants, which is located in Francistown, a city close to the Zimbabwe border. The centre, which is under the authority of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, had a capacity of 500 as of 2006, with separate cell blocks and dining halls for males and females, a kitchen, clinic, library, sports facilities and a multi-purpose hall (Campbell 2006, 14). Locals refer to this facility as “Teronko ya Ma Zimbabwe,” or a prison facility for Zimbabweans, as the majority of detainees are of Zimbabwean origin (Gabathuse 2008).

Non-governmental sources have alleged that Botswana’s detention practices violate human rights standards, in particular its practices of detaining asylum seekers and keeping people confined for excessively long periods of time. According to Ditshwanelo, a Zimbabwe NGO, there are cases in which asylum seekers have been detained at the Francistown centre while the Refugee Advisory Committee determines their status, which can take up to 3-4 years, well beyond the 28-day limit stipulated in the Refugee (Recognition and Control) Act (Ditshwanelo 2006, 17-18).

Media reports claim that asylum seekers from Zimbabwe are held in marquee tents at the Francistown centre while their applications are processed (Gabathuse 2008). Successful applicants are moved to the Dukwi Refugee Camp (U.S. State Department 2006), while unsuccessful applicants lose the protective refugee status, have no access to an appeal, and are considered to be illegal immigrants (Ditshwanelo 2006, 17). Children are detained with their parents and do not have access to schools or recreation facilities at the Francistown centre. The centre is administered to under provisions in the Prisons Act and the general prison code. According to Ditshwanelo, detained asylum seekers have been clad in leg-irons when taken to the hospital outside the detention compound (Ditshwanelo 2006, 17).

References

  • Africa News. 2007. “Botswana Urged to Give Better Treatment to Refugees”. Africa News. 3 July 2007.
  • Government of Botswana. 2005. Reports submitted by States parties under Article 9 of the Convention. Sixteenth periodic reports of States parties due in 2005: Addendum: Botswana. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). CERD/C/495/Add.1. 2 September 2005. http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx (accessed February 2009).
  • Ditshwanelo – the Botswana Centre for Human Rights. 2006. Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 68th session. Ditshwanelo. Geneva. 3-6 March 2006.
  • Campbell, Euguene K. 2006. Reflections on Illegal Immigration in Botswana and South Africa. Department of Population Studies, University of Botswana. Gaborone, Botswana.
  • Gabathuse, R. 2008. "Centre for illegal immigrants". Mmegi Online. Vol. 25, No. 68. Friday 9 May 2008. www.mmegi.bw (accessed February 2009).
  • South African Migration Project (SAMP) website.  Botswana. South African Migration Project (SAMP) - Queens University. January 2007. http://www.queensu.ca/samp/migrationnews/article.php?Mig_News_ID=4328&Mig_News_Issue=25&Mig_News_Cat=3 (accessed 8 December 2008).
  • Government of Botswana. Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs website. The Government of Botswana. http://www.gov.bw/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=40 (accessed February 2009).
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2008. Statistical Yearbook 2007. UNHCR. December 2008.
  • U.S. State Department. 2006. Botswana: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007. www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78720.htm (accessed 18 June 2007).

ENFORCEMENT DATA

Total Migration Detainee Entries: Flow (year)
0
Alternative Total Migration Detainee Entries: Flow (year)
0
Total Migration Detainees: Flow + Stock (year)
300
2021
Not Available
2019
149
2017
Average Daily Population (year)
0
Countries of Origin (Year)
Congo (Kinshasa)
2015
Number of Asylum Seekers Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
511
2015
63
2008
Number of Women Placed in Immigration Detention (year)
65
2017
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
70
2018
65
2017
271
2017
431
2014
Number of Detainees Referred to ATDs (Year)
27
2008
Number of Deportations/Forced Removals (Year)
29,000
2018
Number of Deaths in Immigration Custody (year)
1
2017
1
2016
Immigration Detention Capacity (Specialised Immigration Facilities Only)
504
2017
Number of Dedicated Immigration Detention Centres
1
2007
1
2002
Criminal Prison Population (Year)
4,343
2017
3,960
2015
4,241
2012
5,063
2010
6,074
2007
6,105
2004
6,042
2001
6,455
1998
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
31.6
2014
22.6
2009
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
208
2017
193
2015
205
2012
251
2010
315
2007
328
2004
336
2001
377
1998

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
2,400,000
2020
2,262,000
2015
2,100,000
2012
International Migrants (Year)
110,268
2020
110,596
2019
160,600
2015
146,500
2013
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
4.7
2020
7.1
2015
7.2
2013
Estimated Undocumented Population (Year)
Not Available (Not Available)
2012
Refugees (Year)
637
2020
1,113
2019
2,047
2018
2,119
2017
2,080
2016
2,114
2016
2,130
2015
2,773
2014
Ratio of Refugees Per 1000 Inhabitants (Year)
0.91
2016
1.19
2014
1.41
2012
New Asylum Applications (Year)
334
2020
21
2019
173
2016
470
2015
77
2014
104
2012
Number of People Granted Temporary Protection Status (Year)
Not Available
2020
Refugee Recognition Rate (Year)
3
2015
Stateless Persons (Year)
0
2020
0
2016
0
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
6,711
2020
7,123
2014
7,317
2013
Remittances to the Country
54
2019
48
2014
63
2011
Remittances From the Country
69
2019
96
2010
Unemployment Rate
18
2020
2014
Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
68.86
2019
99.6
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
100 (High)
2019
106 (Medium)
2015
109 (Medium)
2014
Integration Index Score
43
2019
World Bank Rule of Law Index
69 (0.5)
2019

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Does the Country Detain People for Migration, Asylum, or Citizenship Reasons?
Yes
1968
Does the Country Have Specific Laws that Provide for Migration-Related Detention?
Yes
2011

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

Do Migration Detainees Have Constitutional Guarantees?
Yes (Constitution of Botswana, 1966: Chapter II - Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual) 1966 2006
1966
Detention-Related Legislation
Refugee Act of 5 April 1968 (1968) 1970
1968
Immigration Act of 1966 (1966) 1975
1966
Constitution of Botswana, 1966 (1966) 2006
1966
Botswana Immigration Act (Act No. 3 of 2011) (2011)
2011
Additional Legislation
Freedom of Information Bill, 2010 (2010)
2010
Extradition Act 18 of 1990 (1990)
1990
Regulations, Standards, Guidelines
Immigration (Points of Entry) Order (1978)
1978
Immigration (Exemption) Order (1975)
1975
Immigration (Transfer of Minister's Powers) Order (1983)
1983
Refugees (Recognition and Control) Regulations (1968)
1968

GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Immigration-Status-Related Grounds
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay
2011
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality
2011
Detention to effect removal
2011
Detention during the asylum process
1968
Non-Immigration-Status-Related Grounds in Immigration Legislation
Detention on health-related grounds
1966
Detention on public order, threats or security grounds
1966
Criminal Penalties for Immigration-Related Violations
Yes (Yes)
2011
Grounds for Criminal Immigration-Related Incarceration / Maximum Length of Incarceration
Unauthorized entry (14)
2011
Unauthorized re-entry (3650)
2011
Unauthorised stay (365)
2011
Has the Country Decriminalised Immigration-Related Violations?
No
1966
Children & Other Vulnerable Groups
Refugees (Provided)
1968
Persons with disabilities (Provided) Not available
1966
Mandatory Detention
Yes (Undocumented non-citizens with criminal records)
1966
Expedited/Fast Track Removal
Yes
2019
Yes
1968
Summary Removal/Pushbacks
In Law: Yes
1966
Re-Entry Ban
Yes
2011

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Maximum Length of Administrative Immigration Detention
(28)
2011
Average Length of Immigration Detention
No Limit: Yes
2017
Maximum Length of Detention of Asylum-Seekers
Number of Days: 28
1968
Average Length of Asylum Detention
Number: 186
2017
Recorded Length of Immigration Detention
No Limit: Yes
2017
Maximum Length in Custody Prior to Detention Order
Number of Days: 14
1966
Maximum Length of Detention at Port of Entry
Number of Days: 1460
1966
Maximum Length of Incarceration for Immigration-Related Criminal Conviction
(365)
1966

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities
(Department of Immigration and Citizenship) Immigration or Citizenship
2008
Apprehending Authorities
Botswana Police Force (Police) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1979
Detention Facility Management
Botswana Prison Service (Governmental)
1980
Formally Designated Detention Estate?
Yes (Dedicated immigration detention facilities)
2017
Types of Detention Facilities Used in Practice
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)
Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)
2021
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)
Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)
2015

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

Procedural Standards
Right to legal counsel (Yes) Yes
2019
Duration of Time between Detention Reviews (Day)
Number of Days: 3
1966
Legal Appeals (Year)
Number of appeals during year: 202
Number of successful appeals during year: 17
2015
Are Non-Custodial Measures/Alternatives to Detention (ATDs) Provided in Law?
Immigration Law: Yes
Asylum/Refugee Law: Yes
1966
Does the Law Stipulate Consideration of Non-Custodial Measures (ATDs) before Imposing Detention?
Immigration Law: No
Asylum/Refugee Law: No
1966
Types of Non-Custodial Measures (ATDs) Provided in Law
Registration (deposit of documents) (Yes)
1968
Home detention (curfew) (Yes)
1966
Registration (deposit of documents) (Yes)
1966
Provision of Healthcare in Detention Centres
Limited or Some Detention Centres Only
2019
Access to Detainees
Lawyer: Yes
NGOs: Yes
International Monitors: Yes
Consular Representatives: Limited or Some Detention Centres Only
2019
Recouping Detention or Removal Costs
Unknown
1966

DETENTION MONITORS

Is There A National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)?
2020
Official Name of NHRI
The Office of the Ombudsman, Botswana
2020
Is There a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM-OPCAT)
2021
Types of Authorised Detention Monitoring Institutions
The Office of the Ombudsman, Botswana (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2020
International Committee of the Red Cross (International or Regional Bodies (IRBs))
2019
Administration of Justice (Judiciary organs)
2011
Visiting Committee (International or Regional Bodies (IRBs))
1980
Insitutions that Can Make Unannounced Visits
None
2015
Visiting Committee
1980
Is the NHRI Recognised as Independent by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions?
No
2021
Does NHRI Visit Immigration Detention Centres?
No
2020
Does NHRI Receive Complaints?
Yes
2019
Does NHRI Release Reports on Immigration Detention?
No
2020
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Yes
2016
No
2011
Names of International Monitoring Bodies that Carry Out Detention Monitoring Visits
Yes
2019
International Monitoring Reports
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Annual Report 2016: Pretoria (Regional)
2016
[NEW] Is There A National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)?
Yes (The Office of the Ombudsman, Botswana) No Yes

TRANSPARENCY

Transparency Ranking on Migration-Related Detention
Mixed, Reforms Needed
2021
Is There a Publicly Accessible Official List of Currently Operating Detention Centres?
Yes
2002
Does the Country Provide Annual Statistics of the Numbers of People Placed in Migration-Related Detention?
No
2016
Is Detention Data Disaggregated?
Not Applicable
2016
Does the Country Have Access to Information Legislation?
Partial
2011

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

COVID-19

HEALTH CARE

Medical Screening upon Arrival at Detention Centres (within 48 hours)
No
1980
Psychological Evaluation upon Arrival at Detention Centres
Yes
1980
Doctor on Duty at Detention Centres (at least once per week)
Yes
1980
Qualified Nurse Present at Detention Centres (on daily basis)
Unknown
1980
Regular Psychologist Visits at Detention Centres (at least once per week)
Unknown
1980

COVID-19 DATA

Has the country released immigration detainees as a result of the pandemic?
Yes
2020
Has the country used legal "alternatives to detention" as part of pandemic detention releases?
Yes
2020
Has the country Temporarily Ceased or Restricted Issuing Detention Orders?
No
2020
Has the Country Adopted These Pandemic-Related Measures for People in Immigration Detention?
Yes
2020
Has the Country Locked-Down Previously "Open" Reception Facilities, Shelters, Refugee Camps, or Other Forms of Accommodation for Migrant Workers or Other Non-Citizens?
Yes
2020
Have cases of COVID-19 been reported in immigration detention facilities or any other places used for immigration detention purposes?
Yes
2021
Has the Country Ceased or Restricted Deportations/Removals During any Period After the Onset of the Pandemic?
No
2020
Has the Country Released People from Criminal Prisons During the Pandemic?
Yes
2020
Has the Country Commenced a National Vaccination Campaign?
Yes
2021
Have Populations of Concern Been Included/Excluded From the National Vaccination Campaign?
Unknown
2021

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
2000
2017
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
2008
2008
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2002
2002
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
2002
2002
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2000
2000
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1996
1996
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1995
1995
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1974
1974
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1969
1969
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1969
1969
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 10/19
Treaty Reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
ICCPR Article 7 2000
2000
2017
CAT Article 1 2000
2000
2000
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2007
2007
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
1/5
2017
Relevant Recommendations Issued by Treaty Bodies
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination § 18 [...] The Committee recommends that asylum seekers be detained only when necessary, for a limited period of time, under other regulations than the Prisons Act and in accordance with UNHCR guidelines. The Committee also recommends to the State party that it recognize the right of asylumseekers to appeal the decision denying them refugee status before a judicial body. 2006
2006
Committee on the Rights of the Child § 61. "Recalling joint general comments No. 3 and No. 4 (2017) of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families/No. 22 and No. 23 (2017) of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the human rights of children in the context of international migration, the Committee urges the State party to: (a) Prohibit the detention of refugee and asylum-seeking children and adopt alternatives to detention in order to allow children to remain with family members and/or guardians in non-custodial, community-based contexts, consistent with their best interests and their rights to liberty and a family environment; (b) Strengthen measures to ensure full access of all asylum-seeking and refugee children to health services and education" 2019
2019
Committee on the Rights of the Child § 61. Urges the State party to; (a) Prohibit the detention of refugee and asylum-seeking children and adopt alternatives to detention in order to allow children to remain with family members and/or guardians in non-custodial, community-based contexts, consistent with their best interests and their rights to liberty and a family environment; (b) Strengthen measures to ensure full access of all asylum-seeking and refugee children to health services and education. 2019
2019

NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
Yes 2009
2017
No 2013
2017

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Regional Legal Instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
Observation Date
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1986
1986
2017
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 2001
2001
2017

GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Legal Tradition(s)
Civil law
2017
Common law
2017

DETENTION COSTS

OUTSOURCING

FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS