Following its recent visit to Botswana, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) expressed serious concerns regarding the country’s punitive approach towards refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. Having visited two detention sites, the Working Group urged Botswanan authorities to revise its policies to ensure that immigration detention is used as an exception, for the […]
01 July 2022 – Botswana
In June 2022, the Global Detention Project (GDP) and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) issued a joint-submission to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in preparation for its mission to Botswana from 4-15 July 2022 concerning issues related to immigration detention in Botswana. The submission highlights the gaps in the country’s national refugee legislation, lack […]
02 September 2020 – Botswana
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 […]
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).
- 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).
ALTERNATIVES TO DETENTION
ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT DATA
SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS
LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION
LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION
MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS
PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS
Types of Authorised Detention Monitoring Institutions
> National human rights monitoring bodies
> National Preventive Mechanisms (Optional Protocol to UN Convetion against Torture)
> Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
> Governmental monitoring bodies
> International detention monitoring
Have Populations of Concern Been Included/Excluded From the National Vaccination Campaign?
International Treaties Ratified
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Relevant Recommendations Issued by Treaty Bodies
NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS
Relevant Recommendations by UN Special Procedures
FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS
Republic of Botswana, http://www.gov.bw/
Office of the Ombudsman, Botswana, http://www.gov.bw/en/Ministries--Authorities/Ministries/Office-of-the-Ombudsman-of-Botswana/
International Labour Organization: Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa, http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/afpro/harare/
UNHCR - Botswana, http://www.unhcr.org/botswana.html
IOM Country Information, https://ropretoria.iom.int/botswana
NGO & Research Institutions
Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, http://www.ditshwanelo.org.bw/index.html
University of Botswana, Faculty of Social Science, Department of Population Studies, http://www.ub.bw/learning_faculties.cfm?pid=579
Southern African Migration Project, Queens University, Kingston, Canada, http://www.queensu.ca/samp/
The Botswana Gazette, http://www.thegazette.news/
Botswana Guardian, http://www.botswanaguardian.co.bw/
The Voice, http://www.thevoicebw.com/