Mugabe-era Zimbabweans who fled to Botswana lose political refugee standing after court docket ruling

Refugees camped outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' offices in Pretoria.

Refugees camped exterior the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees’ workplaces in Pretoria.

Alet Pretorius, Gallo Photographs

  • Political refugees from the Robert Mugabe period are now not recognised in Botswana after a court docket problem was thrown out.
  • The UNHCR, and governments of Botswana and Zimbabwe agreed that “Zimbabweans ought to be in Zimbabwe”.
  • 200 refugees returned house voluntarily, whereas 57 who didn’t register have been deported. Many others went into hiding.

Botswana now not recognises political refugees from Zimbabwe who got here into the nation in 2008 on the premise that they have been fleeing political violence throughout the Robert Mugabe years.

This comes after 5 refugees tried to problem in court docket their deportation by Botswana’s Ministry of Defence, Justice and Safety.

In January 2020, the UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mentioned the refugees have been now not in danger, paving the best way for Botswana to permit about 300 Zimbabwean political refugees, and a few military deserters, again house to register for voluntary repatriation.

However a gaggle of 5 led by Terence Charuma took their matter to court docket, arguing that some who had returned house have been being focused and detained by the regime.

In refusing to listen to their case within the Gaborone Excessive Courtroom, Justice Michael Leburu poked holes of their utility. Significantly that they’d waited for greater than a 12 months earlier than approaching the courts about their imminent deportation, so they’d accomplished in order unlawful immigrants who ought to have by regulation left the nation.

“No rationalization for such a chronic lull (in court docket interesting) has been superior by the refugees. Cumulatively, the delay of a couple of 12 months and a half is unreasonable,” Leburu mentioned.

Courtroom bid

When the UNHCR mentioned the refugees have been protected to return house, they launched a bid to remain in Botswana by a petition to the UNHCR head workplace in Geneva, Switzerland.

However, with Dukwi Refugee Camp safety officer Olivia Mugambi and Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Botswana Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro agreeing that it was each Gaborone and Harare’s want to “have Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe”, their case grew to become sophisticated.

Leburu mentioned that with a good worldwide organisation and governments from each international locations agreeing that it was protected to return house, it was as much as the candidates to show them incorrect. Nevertheless, of their submission, they’d failed to say any incidents the place returnees had been persecuted.

“The opposite potent and cogent motive why the candidates’ prospects of success in the primary assessment utility are dim and susceptible is that the Minister’s determination to revoke the candidates’ standing was given deferential imprimatur by UNHCR which is a extremely competent, neutral, and specialised organ of the United Nations that offers with problems with refugees,” the choose mentioned.

The group of 5’s whereabouts in Botswana have been unknown, since they weren’t on the Dukwi Refugee Camp or a delegated repatriation facility, making them unlawful immigrants. Subsequently, they’d no authorized foundation to be approaching the courts, Leburu mentioned.

“… wherever they’re, they’re on the mentioned place illegally, therefore they can’t search the court docket’s indulgence.” 

In April, Botswana deported 57 Zimbabweans who had didn’t register for voluntary repatriation. A number of weeks earlier, 200 who registered for repatriation returned house. Others have since gone into hiding.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Basis. The tales produced by the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that could be contained herein don’t replicate these of the Hanns Seidel Basis.


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