UN Condems Botswana’s Racism 31 August 2002

A report released by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination condemns Botswana's treatment of the 'Bushmen' as racist . The report, released in August 2002, criticises both Botswana's eviction of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and government officials' prejudice towards all Bushman tribes (who are also known in Botswana as Basarwa or San). The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples had already expressed concern about the Botswana government's treatment of the Gana and Gwi earlier this year. This new report comes at the same time as criticism of the evictions by the US ambassador to Botswana, and European parliamentarians.

Below are extracts from the report:

The Committee:

  • 'is concerned by the discriminatory character of certain domestic laws, such as the Chieftainship Act and the Tribal Territories Act, which only recognise the Tswana-speaking tribes. Other tribes, especially the Basarwa/San peoples, are reported to suffer from cultural, social, economic and political exclusion, do not enjoy group rights to land, and do not participate in the House of Chiefs.' (point 10)
  • 'is concerned at expressions of prejudice against the Basarwa/San people, including by public officials.' (point 11)
  • 'expresses concern at the ongoing dispossession of Basarwa/San people from their land, and about reports stating that their resettlement outside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve does not respect their political, economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to its General Recommendation XXIII on Indigenous Peoples, and recommends that no decisions directly relating to the rights and interests of members of indigenous peoples be taken without their informed consent.' (point 13)
  • 'notes that the cultural and linguistic rights of the Basarwa/San are not fully respected, especially in educational curricula and in terms of access to the media.' (point 14)

From 'Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Botswana', by United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 61st session, 23 August 2002.

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