News and Information

October 6, 2004
Posted by: nshr on Oct 06, 2004 - 11:47 AM

October 6 2004

NSHR has reliably learned from Botswana immigration sources that Botswana authorities have detained Dukwe-based Caprivian, Rodwel “Fred” Katupisa Kauhano (34). The incident occurred yesterday morning, October 5 2004, at the Dukwe Refugee Camp, some 400 kilometers north of the Botswana capital, Gaborone.

“He is currently being interrogated by CID (criminal investigations department) officers and might be deported to Namibia for possible violation of his [refugee] status in Botswana”, one Botswana immigration officer, also speaking on condition of anonymity, informed NSHR investigators yesterday.

On September 24 2004 Caprivi-based human rights defenders, citing reliable sources, reported that Kauhano returned to Botswana on September 23 2004 and entered the Dukwe Refugee Camp at around 10h00.

“It appears that Kauhano absconded to Botswana or else Namibian authorities deliberately assisted him to return to that country for reasons best known to themselves”, said a human rights source anonymously.

In a Press Release on September 20 2004, also citing reliable police and other verifiable sources, NSHR reported that Kauhano was “’repatriated’ to Namibia under mysterious circumstances” on September 3 2004. In the said Press Release the human rights watch dog also expressed concerned about Kauhano’s fate and called upon the Namibian Government “to reveal” his whereabouts without delay.

Human rights investigators have since then also learned that soon after being “repatriated”, Kauhano was detained at the Max Makushe police precinct, in the Kavango Region, some 180 kilometers east of Rundu, the regional capital. While being held there high-ranking Namibian police officers allegedly interrogated him on several occasions in connection with the alleged Caprivi secessionist plot.

NSHR records on the plot show that Kauhano was among the first group of some 92 Caprivi refugees who fled the country to Botswana on or around October 27 1998 following widespread human rights abuses by Namibian security forces in the disputed Caprivi Region. On August 2 1999 Caprivi Liberation Army guerrillas launched an armed attack on several Government installations at Katima Mulilo. The said attack led to even more widespread human rights violations in the Caprivi Region.

NSHR information on the said violations reveals that two other relatives of Kauhano, viz. Gibson L. Luka and Molicious Simone are among some 130 alleged Caprivi secessionists presently being held on multiple charges of high treason at the Grootfontein Prison, some 400 kilometers north of the Namibian capital.

NSHR calls upon the Botswana Government not to repeat the refoulement of Namibian asylum seekers as it has done last December when 8 alleged Caprivi secessionists were abducted to Namibia. Refoulement refers to forced return of an asylum seeker to his or her country of origin where he or she is likely to be persecuted for inter alia his or her perceived or real political affiliation or opinion.

On July 27 2004 the highest court of Botswana, citing the possibility of extra-judicial punishment for political offenses, unanimously nixed the Namibian Government’s appeal to have 13 other Caprivians extradited.

“Legal precedents in international law of extradition as well as a set of principles, best known as the Norgaard Principles, hold that an act of violence, even murder, may be a political offense if committed with a political motive within a political context”, said NSHR executive director Phil ya Nangoloh, this morning.

NSHR entreats the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Botswana to accord Kauhano and other asylum seekers international protection against human rights abuses, including abduction and enforced disappearance.


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