- Human rights groups in Namibia claim to have "reliable information" on a "another" deportation of Namibian refugees from Botswana. The two deported individuals are connected to the alleged plot to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia and are said to be "likely to face political persecution."
Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) today reported that it had been informed by "reliable human rights, immigration and refugee sources in Botswana" that authorities in the latter country had "deported at least another two Caprivi refugees."
The sources said that Botswana immigration authorities yesterday morning deported formerly Dukwe-based Caprivi refugee Rodwell "Fred" Katupisa Kauhano (34). The incident allegedly took place at the Gerald Estate Detention Centre in Francistown, some 400 kilometres, north of Gaborone, the Batswana capital.
Citing "unidentified reliable immigration sources in Botswana" in a press release on 6 October 2004, NSHR reported that authorities in Botswana had detained Mr Kauhano at the Dukwe Refugee Camp the day before. The camp is located some 450 kilometres north of Gaborone.
The Namibian human rights group at that stage expressed concern that Mr Kauhano might be subjected to refoulement to face possible high treason charges in Namibia in connection with the alleged plot to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
The Caprivi Region is a narrow wedge of Namibian land between Zambia and Botswana, stretching towards the Zambezi River. Geographically and ethnically, the region differs much from the rest of Namibia and many Caprivians claim to be disadvantaged by Windhoek authorities. The Caprivi Region is the only part of the country strongly opposing the SWAPO ruling party in all elections.
Mr Kauhano was among the first group of some 92 Caprivi refugees who fled Namibia to Botswana in around October 1998, following what the NSHR calls "widespread human rights abuses by Namibian security forces in the disputed Caprivi Region." On 2 August 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 region," according to NSHR.
The Namibian human rights group claims to have reliable information on several deportations arranged by authorities in Botswana. Mr Kauhano, for example, had according to NSHR sources already been "'repatriated' to Namibia under mysterious circumstances" in September last year. After a three-week detention in Namibia, Mr Kauhano allegedly was brought back to Botswana's Dukwe Refugee Camp.
The rights group's sources also alleged that another Caprivian identified only as "Charles" was deported to Namibia between 30 and 31 December 2004 under mysterious circumstances. Before his deportation, "Charles" was allegedly held at a detention centre. His involvement, if any, in the alleged Caprivi secessionist plot was not previously known to NSHR.
Back in Namibia, the two deportees were "likely to face political persecution, including prolonged detention or enforced disappearance in connection with the marathon high treason trial," NSHR said today. Hence, the group called upon Namibian authorities, not only to disclose the present whereabouts of the two, but also the charges, if any, under which the two deportees might be held in custody in the country.
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