A presidential commission recommended constitutional amendments to improve the protection of certain rights, while undermining others. Migrants and asylum seekers including children were subjected to arbitrary detention. Murders attributed to gender-based violence constituted a large proportion of all murders between January and March. There was a documented rise in the number of people going missing. Indigenous peoples’ rights were violated. Botswana continued to use the death penalty.
In July, following a visit to Botswana, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said it found several instances where the country’s laws and practices fell short of international standards. This included the use of automatic arbitrary detention of undocumented migrants as well as asylum seekers and their children, who had no access to education while detained.
Murder rates continued to rise and a large proportion of cases were a consequence of gender-based violence. In July the Botswana Police Force said they received 349 reports of murders between January and March; 164 victims were women and 133 cases were attributed to gender-based violence.
Attacks on children
In June, NGOs raised concerns about the rising number of disappearances in the country. A prominent case involved a six-year-old boy who disappeared in March in Lobatse. His remains were found in July with some body parts missing. The child was allegedly sold by his stepfather for BWP 200,000 (approximately USD 15,000) for ritual purposes. The case ignited national outrage at the increase in disappearances.
Economic, social and cultural rights
In December, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution of Botswana produced its report following extensive countrywide consultations. It made some positive recommendations for the constitutional protection of rights to health, land, education and work among others, and to protect intersex people from discrimination. A few other recommendations raised human rights concerns (see Death penalty below).
Indigenous peoples’ rights
Restrictions on Indigenous peoples’ rights continued. A judge’s refusal to allow the body of an older man of the San (also known as Basarwa), a nomadic hunter-gatherer people, to be buried on his ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, was upheld by the Court of Appeal in December. Following a protracted legal battle between the government and his family members, the court made an order directing the family to bury the deceased within seven days.
Botswana continued to sentence people to death although no executions were carried out in 2022. In July it was reviewed by the UN Committee against Torture, which recommended that the authorities adopt a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolishing it. The constitutional review process (see above, Economic, social and cultural rights) concluded that Batswana largely supported the death penalty and even wanted to extend its use; it recommended that further crimes, including drug-related offences and the rape of children under 12, carry the death penalty.