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Amnesty International Report 1996 - Botswana

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 January 1996
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1996 - Botswana, 1 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9fc80.html [accessed 1 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
One man who was charged with having homosexual relations and briefly detained was a prisoner of conscience. Over 200 students, some of whom appeared to be prisoners of conscience, were briefly detained following demonstrations. Many were allegedly ill-treated in police custody. Five people sentenced to death in 1994 were executed.

One man accused of having homosexual relations was detained for three weeks between December 1994 and January 1995; he was a prisoner of conscience. He and another man had been charged in December 1994 with "unlawful carnal knowledge" which is punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment. He was tried in March and sentenced to pay a fine after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. The other man had not been tried by the end of the year as he was awaiting the outcome of an application to the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of penalizing homosexual activities. The application argued that it violated the rights to privacy and freedom of association, and, since sexual relations between women are not penalized, that it constituted sex discrimination.

Over 200 students, some of whom appeared to be prisoners of conscience, were arrested in January and February. The arrests took place following demonstrations in Gaborone, the capital, and Mochudi, in protest at the release of four people who had been arrested in connection with the murder of a 14-year-old girl in Mochudi in November 1994. Violence erupted in Gaborone after the police used force to stop a peaceful demonstration which, they claimed, was illegal because the students had not sought official permission. Many demonstrators were severely injured by police wielding batons and required medical treatment. Some of those arrested, including schoolchildren, claimed that they had been beaten in detention. All were released after a few days, including 20 who were charged with rioting or malicious damage to property. They had not been tried by the end of the year.

One man was reportedly beaten by police and then killed; a paramilitary police officer was subsequently charged with murder. In February Binto Moroke was shot dead by a member or members of the Special Support Group (SSG), a paramilitary force deployed in Mochudi to quell the unrest. SSG members went to Binto Moroke's house to arrest him in connection with rioting which had taken place the previous day. A relative said that about six officers started beating Binto Moroke and then shot him when he tried to escape. At the time the authorities claimed that the police had killed Binto Moroke in self-defence, but in June an SSG officer was arrested and charged with murder. The officer was committed for trial by the High Court in July. The trial started in mid-November and had not ended by the end of the year.

The death penalty was applied for the first time in eight years. Executions resumed with the hanging of five men in late August. David Keleletswe, David Gobatsu, Tekoetsile Tsiane, Obusitswe Tshabang and Patrick Ntesang had been convicted of murder, which carries a mandatory death sentence, in 1994. In February the Appeal Court upheld their death sentences and in July their appeal for a presidential pardon was turned down.

In February and August Amnesty International appealed to President Ketumile Masire to commute the five death sentences. The organization also wrote to the authorities in June expressing concern about the killing of Binto Moroke.

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