Two Ugandan political refugees have petitioned nine foreign embassies in Gaborone, claiming harassment by the Government of Botswana.
Musa Isabirye and Timothy Yamin have also written to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Nairobi and Geneva about what they claim is “consistent harassment”. Through their attorney Martin Dingake, the March 9, 2015 petition states that Isabirye was detained by police without a charge.
“Whilst we were in the process of settling court papers for his release, he was served with a revocation letter for his refugee status.
“The matter was set for argument on the March 16 2015 (but) the ministry attempted to deport him to Uganda notwithstanding the fact that the matter was before court,” the letter reads.
Dingake says they were forced to move without notice to stop Isabirye’s deportation hours before a Kenyan Airway flight was due to have returned him to Uganda.
“On March 13, 2015 at 1300 hours Yamin was taken into police custody and Air Botswana was secured to deport him at 1900 hours.
“We approached court on the same a date and as soon as the Attorney General was served with the court papers at 1650hrs, he was released.
“On the morning of the 16th March 2015 at 0800hrs we received a call that the Attorney General wanted to settle the matter.”
Dingake argues that while the Minister has the power to review anyone’s status as a recognised refugee, his clients were entitled to a hearing before such a decision was taken. The Minister’s decision in relation to the revocation of Isabirye status as a recognised refugee was not taken in the best interest of his children as required by the Children’s Act, the lawyer states.
“It is our view that the clients have been consistently harassed given the number of successful applications they have had against the government. It is also clear that the Government of Botswana desperately wants them out of the country without regard as to whether they will be safe in Uganda.
“Given the government’s desperation to deport, intimidate and harass clients they no longer feel safe in Botswana,” Dingake said in the petition.