BONELA CALLS ON MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT TO ACT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF BATSWANA

 

  1. The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) applauds the Honorable Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Dr Phenyo Butale for bringing before the House of Assembly a motion that:
  1. a)Calls on Government to expand the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana to include socio-economic and cultural rights so as to ensure justiciability of such rights.
  2. AND, FURTHER, to take the Constitutional Amendment Bill proposed herein to a referendum process in keeping with the provisions of section 89(4) of the Constitution.
  1. BONELA has consistently maintained that constitutionalizing second generation rights such as the right to health, right to education, right to decent living wage, reflects the need to protect the most fundamental interests of Batswana in having resources that are necessary for the exercise of their well-being.
  1. BONELA further argues that the effective realization of the rights currently provided for in the constitution depends on these socio economic and cultural rights- Of what use is the right to dignity if one is illiterate because their parents could not afford to send them to school? Or of what use is the right to life if one is denied basic health services because they could not afford it?
  1. In addition to the above, a solid culture of socio-economic rights, rooted in justiciable constitutional provisions, can help to ensure that vulnerable groups, especially poor people are entitled to a fair share of national resources and are able to enjoy the material conditions essential for their dignity and well-being.
  1. Conclusively, the most effective way to recognize and enforce these rights is to include them in the constitution which is the supreme law of the state. Amending the constitution to accommodate these rights also raises a political expectation that the provision of services is a legitimate and expected role of the government.
  1. We therefore urge Honorable Members of Parliament, to act in the best interest of Batswana, particularly those most vulnerable and poor members of the society, by positively engaging and considering the aforementioned motion brought before parliament with the view to improve the quality of life of all Batswana.

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 72385054/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

16TH JUNE 2019-DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD PRESS STATEMENT

 

This years’ theme is Humanitarian Action in Africa- Children’s Rights First.

16 June is a remarkable day as we remember the Soweto uprising where black students took to the streets in protest against being taught in a language that was not theirs. BONELA has become the voice of many Batswana youth and children who have been oppressed in practising their Human Rights. On this day, we reflect on our efforts in continuing to make Children’s Rights a reality in Botswana.

Guided by the2009 Botswana Children’s Act, we acknowledge that a child is a person under the age of 18. As an organization we realise that this is an age group that is greatly affected and faces a challenge in enjoying their Rights. Some of the matters that are of high concern are the following:

  • Neglect and Child-headed Families- The HIV pandemic has left many children as orphans putting responsibilities on the eldest child who takes the role of a parent and abandons their dreams. We have parents that have also left their children to work in the Urban Centres leaving their day to day responsibilities with children.
  • Teenage Pregnancies- This has seen a lot of future leaders dropping out of school to take care of their children. While we all know that pregnancy is a result of unprotected sex, this also exposes most children to HIV and STIs and defilement.
  • Human Trafficking- Children in Botswana are being abducted and used for sex and their organs for ritual ceremonies and beliefs. Social media is used to ensnare youth who are then taken to other cities and countries for prostitution.
  • Sexual Abuse-As young as a day old, children are being molested and sexually. Some cases are family members abusing children and these children are being prevented from reporting so as not to tarnish their family name.
  • Children born of Batswana fathers and non-citizen mothers –These children face challenges in accessing Identification cards which hinder them in accessing proper health services.

While this is a few of the many cases and situations happening in Botswana, we pride ourselves with standing for Children Rights in Botswana. We acknowledge every organization that is working to make Children’s rights a reality and we encourage each other to continue fighting until every child is free from abuse and can claim their rights.

This year BONELA calls on parents, guardian, teachers, civil and community leaders, traditional leaders, social workers and the community at large to live the principle of Botho in ensuring that every decision made is at the best interest of a child.

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73586886/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

11TH JUNE 2019-JUDGEMENT ON SECTION 164 CASE TO BE DELIVERED TOMORROW

 

  1. Tomorrow, 11th June 2019, the Gaborone High Court will deliver its judgment on the landmark case; Letsweletse Motshidiemang v The Attorney General and Another with LEGABIBO as amicus curiae. This is a case where a gay man is challenging the constitutionality of Section 164 (a) and (c) and Section 167 of the Botswana Penal Code.
  1. The task of the court tomorrow will be to answer the legal question posed before it being; whether S164 (a) and (c) – which prohibits sexual intercourse per anum- is indeed unconstitutional and should be struck down.
  1. The fact that the case was heard in our courts speaks volumes about the openness and progressive nature of the Botswana legal system. This case has also created a platform for discourse on Botswana’s “anti-sodomy laws” and how they affect therights of the marginalized members of society. Batswana have also been given an opportunity to take stock of their views and assess the impact of such views on the protection, promotion and fulfilment of the rights of the minority.
  1. Over the years, BONELA has seen first-hand how laws such as S164 (a) and (c) and S167 have led to widespread stigma and discrimination, making LGBTI persons vulnerable to targeting, violence and blackmailing. These laws have also acted as impediments to accessing essential medical services as they have driven LGBTI persons underground and away from health services. The removal of these sections from the Penal Code will therefore ensure they are protected and fully enjoy their rights.
  1. BONELA is hopeful that tomorrow’s judgement will be one that reflects a modern and progressive society that seeks to see the rights of people, regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, colour or creed protected. A Botswana which fully embodies the principles of botho indiscriminately.

 

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73586886/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

11.06.2019-Botswana High Court decriminalizes consensual same sex sexual conduct

The High Court of Botswana today made history with its decision in the Letsweletse Motshidiemang v The Attorney General and Another case. The unanimous decision by the three judge bench consisting of Judge Tafa, Leburu and Dube effectively struck down S164 (a) and (c) and S165 which criminalized consensual same sex sexual conduct and have removed “private” from acts of gross indecency criminalized under S167.

 

In its decision, the Court held that these sections of the law invaded people’s private space and amounted to an “overregulation of human conduct”. Although the Court held that the sections were clear and so should not be voided for vagueness as argued by the plaintiff; the court did invoke powers conferred to it by the Constitution to change the law.

 

BONELA therefore firstly applauds the applicant for his selfless actions that brought to light and put a face to the effects of S164, 165 and 167 on the LGBTI community. BONELA also applauds the Court for adopting a progressive stance; one that recognizes that the law should be allowed to grow and so work for Batswana of the 21st century. In its ruling, the Court recognized that the Penal Code sections in question infringed on the right to privacy, liberty, dignity, did not afford LGBTI people equal protection of the law and were in effect discriminatory in nature. Infringements that have no place in a tolerant and inclusive society.

 

The law is now reformed to reflect the changing realities of Batswana; BONELA thus calls on duty bearers to adopt practice that reflects this. Going forward, we need to make a deliberate effort to adopt a rights based approach to service delivery, providing services to all – indiscriminately- and providing targeted prevention commodities so as to prevent new HIV infections.

 

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 72385054/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

BONELA’S RESPONSE ON THE COMMUNITY MEDICATION REFILLL PROJECT AT THE NKOYAPHIRI CLINIC ANTIRETROVIRAL(ARV) DISPENSARY IN MOGODISTHANE

“In a bid to reduce congestion at Nkoyaphiri clinic Antiretroviral (ARV) dispensary in Mogoditshane, its management has embarked on a project to deliver ARV medication refills at doorsteps of stable patients who are faithfully taking their medication” (BOPA, 2019/05/20)

BONELA acknowledges the public health advantage of incorporating this above mentioned approach to reduce the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana, we however submit that adopting a human rights approach to HIV/AIDS is in the best interest of public health and is key to achieving significant progress in reducing new HIV infections and subsequent eradication of the epidemic.

In view of the above, there are a plethora of human rights violations this strategy would cause, one of them is stigma and discrimination. Another is the fact that it contributes to forced disclosure which violates people’s right to privacy, and dignity. The strategy also puts clients at risk of gender based violence. These are constitutionally guaranteed rights of Batswana; it is therefore a concern as to why the government would want to violate them.

Notwithstanding the above, stigma awareness is still relatively poor in Botswana. In 2018 alone, BONELA received 10 cases through its free legal services that were related to disclosure, stigmatisation and discrimination from family members, the community and within work places. This is a demonstration that stigma related violations in relation to HIV is still high. BONELA therefore recommends that, for this model or approach to work, the Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Health and Wellness should intensify stigma and discrimination programs within the workplace and the public, through door to door campaigns to minimize the of the effects of stigma on PLWHA. The absence of such health educational programs is bound to increase public’s fear and resistance to HIV/AIDS response.

Michel Sidibé, (Executive Director of UNAIDS) in 2012 noted that “Whenever AIDS has won, stigma, shame, distrust, discrimination and apathy was on its side”. He further reiterates that “every time AIDS has been defeated, it has been because of trust, openness, dialogue between individuals and communities, family support, human solidarity, and the human perseverance to find new paths and solutions”.

It is against this background that BONELA argues that in this case, there ought to have been engagement with communities on more efficient ways to reduce congestion and improve accessibility to health services rather than the top down approach in the process creating a negative domino effect. In addition to the this, BONELA advocates for a multi month dispensing initiative, instead of taking pre-packaged ARV medications to patients’ home or work place. Approaches in the region in countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe with decreasing HIV prevalence in the last 3 – 5 years have been to embark on treatment supply from periods ranging from 3 – 6 months at a time. Such models have proven to be effective in addressing challenges related to accessing ARVs on a monthly basis and further easing the pressure and the congestion at dispensing clinics. Another community angle that should be explored is the community based dispensing anti-retroviral therapy (ART) delivery which has shown tremendous success in regions where it has been implemented.

As the country accelerates its efforts for an AIDS-free generation and towards epidemic control by 2021, we believe this can be achieved through a combination prevention program that inculcates a human rights based service delivery plan, and a robust community engagement on stigma related issues. This will result in a sounder public health approach which will address the current challenges in ARV treatment, care and support.

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