UN condemns Botswana government over Bushman evictions

March 13, 2006

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The UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has reprimanded the Botswana government over its eviction and harassment of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen.

In an unusually harsh report issued on Friday, the committee notes its concern at ‘persistent allegations that [Bushmen] were forcibly removed, through, in particular, such measures as the termination of basic and essential services inside the Reserve, the dismantling of existing infrastructures, the confiscation of livestock, harassment and ill-treatment of some residents by police and wildlife officers, as well as the prohibition of hunting and restrictions on freedom of movement inside the Reserve.'

The UN committee urges the Botswana government to, ‘pay particular attention to the close cultural ties that bind the San/Basarwa [Bushmen] to their ancestral land; protect the economic activities of the San/Basarwa that are an essential element of their culture, such as hunting and gathering practices, whether conducted by traditional or modern means; study all possible alternatives to relocation; and seek the prior free and informed consent of the persons and groups concerned.'

The committee also condemns the government's removal of Bushman rights from the Botswana Constitution, which it says ‘may impact on the on-going court case brought by some residents of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve against the Government to challenge their relocation from the Reserve.'

For more information call Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]