4 March 2016

Namibian Refugee Status Revocation Postponed

THE execution of the relief order directing the government of Botswana not to revoke the refugee status of Namibians living at the Dukwe refugee camp, has been postponed.

This means the planned deportation of about 730 Namibian refugees, who have been living at the camp since 1998 and 1999, has been halted.

The Botswana government was supposed to respond to why the order should not be made permanent by the Lobatse High Court, but the matter was postponed to 18 March 2016.

The refugees, whose status was initially set to be revoked by 31 December 2015, took the Botswana government to court over the festive period, citing fears of arrest, detention and torture in their home country and claiming that they will be treated like the 30 men convicted of high treason in the country's longest-running case which lasted for 15 years.

The men are part of those who launched violent attacks in Katima Mulilo during August 1999. They were sentenced in December 2015 to between three and 18 years' imprisonment on charges of murder and attempted murder.

The Dukwe refugees' joint urgent application was brought by the group's spokesperson, Felix Kakula, who asked the court for the July 2015 report on their 'Go and See, Come and Tell' mission to support their choice to stay in Botswana or return to Namibia.

Thirteen refugees, under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), visited Namibia and compiled the report, but their mission was brought to an abrupt end due to allegations that the group was politically mobilising for the United Democratic Party (UDP).

The UDP was banned in Namibia in 2006 after reports that its members, including now-exiled leader Mishake Muyongo, were behind the secessionist attacks in Katima Mulilo in 1999.

The party's mission was to secede the Zambezi region, then Caprivi, from the rest of Namibia.

A total of 3 000 people fled the region into Botswana, of whom 2 100 have since returned through the tripartite agreement, while others died there.



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