Botswana

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

No Data

Detained children

21

New asylum applications

2019

1,113

Refugees

2019

110,596

International migrants

2019

Overview

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).

DETENTION, EXPULSION, AND INCARCERATION STATISTICS

Total number of immigration detainees by year
Not Available
2019
Criminal prison population
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
31.6
2014
22.6
2009
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
193
2015
205
2012
251
2010
315
2007
328
2004
336
2001
377
1998

DEMOGRAPHICS AND IMMIGRATION-RELATED STATISTICS

Population
2,400,000
2020
2,262,000
2015
2,100,000
2012
International migrants
110,596
2019
160,600
2015
146,500
2013
International migrants as a percentage of the population
7.1
2015
7.2
2013
Refugees
1,113
2019
2,047
2018
2,119
2017
2,080
2016
2,130
2015
2,773
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
0.91
2016
1.19
2014
1.41
2012
Total number of new asylum applications
21
2019
173
2016
77
2014
104
2012
Stateless persons
0
2016
0
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
7,123
2014
7,317
2013
Remittances to the country
48
2014
63
2011
Remittances from the country
96
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
99.6
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
106 (Medium)
2015
109 (Medium)
2014

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Civil law
2017
Common law
2017

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 10/19
International treaty reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
ICCPR Article 7 2000
2000
2017
CAT Article 1 2000
2000
2000
Individual complaints procedure
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
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
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1986
1986
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 2001
2001
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
Yes 2009
2017
No 2013
2017

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Custodial authority
(Department of Immigration and Citizenship) Immigration or Citizenship
2008
Types of detention facilities used in practice
2015