“Children have been arrested by paramilitary police which are signs of a new government policy to intimidate Bushmen who have returned to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.”Photo: Survival International
The Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana have been fighting for their right to return to their native ancestral land which they were evicted from in 2002. Bushmen over the age of 16 are required to apply for a one-month access permit in order to enter the reserve. British attorney Gordon Bennett won a case in 2006 that gave the Bushman the right to enter the reserve without a permit; however, the government of Botswana has continued to enforce the permit policy.
The fight for the Kalahari Bushmen to return to their ancestral land has been renewed and the government of Botswana has decided to prevent Mr. Bennett from entering the country to represent the group. He was put on a ‘visa list’ following a hearing in June which prevented the eviction of the Bushman community of Ranyane. Bennett has won three separate victories for the Bushmen community granting them rights to enter ancestral land as well as to drill water boreholes after the government attempted to stop them from doing so.
While commenting on the situation, Mr Bennett said that “The right to a fair trial normally includes the right to be represented by counsel of your choice. Not in Botswana, apparently – or at least not if you sue the Government.” The Bushman previously evicted in 2002 return to court on Monday, July 29 2013 in order to gain free access to the CKGR. Due to the Government’s refusal to allow Mr. Bennett from entering the country to defend the Bushman in court, they will be forced to make their argument and defend their rights on their own.
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