Botswana

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

271

Detained children

2017

21

New asylum applications

2019

1,113

Refugees

2019

110,596

International migrants

2019

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 Detainees/ Stock & Flow (Year)
Not Available
2019
Total Entries/Flow (year)
0
Alternative Total Entries/Flow (year)
0
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
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
271
2017
431
2014
Number of Detainees Referred to ATDs (Year)
27
2008
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)
110,596
2019
160,600
2015
146,500
2013
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
7.1
2015
7.2
2013
Estimated Undocumented Population (Year)
Not Available (Not Available)
2012
Refugees (Year)
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)
21
2019
173
2016
470
2015
77
2014
104
2012
Stateless Persons (Year)
0
2016
0
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

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

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

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

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
Re-Entry Ban
Yes
2011

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Maximum Length of Administrative Immigration Detention
(28)
2011
Maximum Length in Custody Prior to Detention Order
(14)
1966

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities
(Department of Immigration and Citizenship) Immigration or Citizenship
2008
Types of Detention Facilities Used in Practice
()
2015

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

Procedural Standards
Right to legal counsel (Yes) Yes
2019

DETENTION MONITORS

TRANSPARENCY

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

COVID-19

COVID-19 DATA

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
Treaty Reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
ICCPR Article 7 2000
2000
2017
CAT Article 1 2000
2000
2000
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
Observation Date
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2007
2007
2017
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
2017

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