Six Kalahari Bushmen imprisoned for hunting
|Bushman elder, CKGR, Botswana 2004 |
© Survival International
Six Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana have been arrested and jailed, charged with hunting inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The Molepolole court is expected to rule on the charges on Monday. The case relates to two incidents, one earlier this year and the other in 2007.
Botswana High Court Judge Justice Phumaphi ruled in 2006 that forbidding the Bushmen from hunting for food was ‘tantamount to condemning [them] to death’. The historic ruling recognized the Bushmen’s right to live on their ancestral land, and condemned the government’s repeated evictions of Bushmen, its ban on hunting and its destruction of their water source.
The Botswana government has not granted a single hunting license for the reserve since 2001, despite the High Court ruling that its hunting ban was unlawful and unconstitutional. At least 75 Bushmen have requested licenses.
Many Bushmen have returned home since the 2006 ruling, but many are still trapped in relocation camps which they call ‘places of death.’ The government has largely ignored the High Court ruling, continuing to deny the Bushmen access to water and refusing them permission to hunt.
Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Jailing six Bushmen for hunting is an outrageous act of hypocrisy by the Botswana government, which is still refusing to respect the ruling of the country’s own High Court that the Bushmen must be allowed to live freely on their land. Forbidding them from hunting for food is illegal.’
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