In Dialogue with Botswana, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Ask about the Death Penalty and Criminalising Same-sex Relations
The Committee on Human Rights today concluded its review of the second periodic report of Botswana on measures taken to implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with Experts asking about the death penalty and criminalising same-sex relations.
Committee Experts noted that Botswana had a solid reputation respecting the rule of law and encouraging trends in the judiciary system as well. They asked about withdrawing the reservations to articles from the Covenant, in particular about a decision concerning the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons. Section 164 of the Penal Code criminalising same-sex relations had not been repealed yet. The Experts also enquired about the death penalty. They said that while the issue of the death penalty was a political issue and that a Government must take public opinion into account to some extent, the issue of the death penalty was too serious and too important to be taken up with a public opinion poll. They stressed that Botswana must ensure that the death penalty should be pronounced only for the most serious cases and should move toward the abolition of this penalty.
Kabo Neale Sechele Morwaeng, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration of Botswana and head of the delegation, said the Government had established a National Human Rights Coordinating Committee, which comprised of Government Ministries, including those who were responsible for all the human rights Treaties and Conventions, and civil society organizations. The Committee was currently developing the first comprehensive human rights strategy and national action plan, scheduled for completion in December 2021.
Following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization, Botswana had been obliged to undertake some measures with a view to curbing the spread of the pandemic, resulting in derogation from the obligations related to the freedom of movement and the right to peaceful assembly. Following a Parliamentary consultation process, the President of Botswana had declared a state of public emergency. The main objective had been to allow the country to contain and control the pandemic as well as mobilise resources and preserve jobs and livelihoods.
The delegation of Botswana was comprised of representatives of the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration; the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation; the Ministry of Agriculture, Development and Food Security; the Coordinating Office for People Living with Disabilities; the Poverty Eradication Coordinating Unit; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime; the Independent Electoral Commission; the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security; the Ministry of Youth, Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development; the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency; the Department of Gender Affairs; and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Neale Sechele Morwaeng said the Government maintained a robust consultative approach to policy development and legislative process. This was a system of governance that ensured that the voices of ordinary citizens were respected and taken into account in the social, economic and political processes that affected them the most, giving full effect to the full enjoyment of human rights across board.
Yadh Ben Achour, Committee Member, said the Committee was satisfied with the frank exchange of views on issues, including the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the views of the delegation on the death penalty, electronic surveillance, the absolute declaration and upholding of the prohibition of torture, the rights of children and indigenous groups, and the distribution of resources.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Botswana at the end of its one hundred and thirty-third session, which concludes on 5 November. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. The meeting summary releases prepared on the public meetings of the Committee can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 25 October, to start its consideration of the eighth periodic report of Ukraine (CCPR/C/UKR/8).
The Committee has before it the second periodic report of Botswana (CCPR/C/BWA/2).
Presentation of the Report
KABO NEALE SECHELE MORWAENG, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration of Botswana and head of the delegation, introducing the report, noted that the Government recognised the significant role of civil society organizations that served as key partners in the promotion and protection of human rights. However, consultations with them prior to the submission of the report were not feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions. New ways of engagement with civil society had been initiated on a more institutional basis. The Government had established a National Human Rights Coordinating Committee, which comprised of Government Ministries, including those who were responsible for all the human rights Treaties and Conventions, and civil society organizations. The Committee was currently developing the first comprehensive human rights strategy and national action plan, scheduled for completion in December 2021.
Following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization, Botswana had been obliged to undertake some measures with a view to curbing the spread of the pandemic, resulting in derogation from the obligations related to the freedom of movement and the right to peaceful assembly. Following a Parliamentary consultation process, the President of Botswana had declared a state of public emergency. The main objective was to allow the country to contain and control the pandemic as well as mobilise resources and preserve jobs and livelihoods. A comprehensive COVID-19 response plan had been adopted. Botswana’s vaccination rate was among the highest in Africa with 17.2 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated.
Botswana had acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July 2021. To domesticate the Convention, Parliament had passed the Revised Disability Policy in parallel. Other policy developments included the adoption of the Poverty Eradication Policy; the revised 2020 Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency funding guidelines; and the review of water-related legislation to align it with the emerging needs of the nation. Parliament at its July 2021 sitting had passed the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill with the object of conferring the human rights mandate on the Office of the Ombudsman in accordance with the Paris Principles. The process to review the structure of the office to enable it to carry out its new mandate had commenced.
To close the gender gap in women’s representation in Parliament, a deliberate decision had been taken to increase the number of women appointed as specially elected members of Parliament. The Employment Amendment Act of 2010 provided for non-discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2020, the Government had adopted the national social protection framework to further strengthen and ensure the protection of the population. The Government had introduced the affirmative action framework for remote area communities in 2014. This Framework facilitated remote area communities to benefit from national programmes across different sectors.
To address violence against women and children, Parliament had enacted the Sexual Offences Registry Act. Specialised courts were also established to speed up the adjudication of gender-based violence. In addition, the Gender and Child Protection Branch was established by the Botswana Police Service to promote reporting, including by children. Furthermore, the inter-ministerial committee and a technical committee on gender-based violence were established to coordinate and guide the national response on this issue. Additional services included online counselling, as well as increasing toll-free lines for reporting gender-based violence.
Botswana continued to make progress in institutionalising a range of information, skills and values needed for young people to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights, and to make decisions about their health. Despite the country’s human rights record, Botswana continued to experience challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights, largely due to capacity constraints and technical and financial constraints as well as certain entrenched norms. These would require long-term strategies, patience and continuous public education to bring about desired change.
Questions by Committee Experts
Committee Experts noted that Botswana had a solid reputation respecting the rule of law and encouraging trends in the judiciary system as well. They asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the country. The Experts asked about withdrawing the reservations to articles from the Covenant, in particular about a decision concerning the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. Had the judgment of the High Court of Botswana in the case of Letsweletse Motshediemang v. Attorney General been implemented? Section 164 of the Penal Code criminalising same-sex relations had not been repealed yet. It appeared that the Attorney General had filed an appeal against the judgement. What was the status of the appeal? The Committee asked about the steps taken by the relevant institutions to strengthen the implementation of the Covenant. Also, the Committee asked about details on the way the Ombudsman’s office worked in Botswana and was it the equivalent of a national human rights institution?
The Experts enquired about the death penalty. They said that while the issue of the death penalty was a political issue and that a Government must take public opinion into account to some extent, the issue of the death penalty was too serious and too important to be taken up with a public opinion poll. They stressed that Botswana must ensure that the death penalty should be pronounced only for the most serious cases and should move toward the abolition of this penalty. The Committee, in its 2008 conclusions to Botswana, had recommended that families were warned in advance of the date of the execution of their loved ones and were provided the opportunity to bury their relatives. However, prison regulations stood contrary to this recommendation. All applications for mercy had been unsuccessful, the Committee Experts said, asking about the basis for the denial or approval of clemency applications.
Following up on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Botswana, a Committee Expert asked to what extent had the State Party carried out a thorough gender analysis of all laws in order to identify all customary laws that were incompatible with the Convention so as to bring them into compliance with statutory laws and the Convention? On violence against women, what measures had been taken to protect them from sexual harassment, especially in schools? The Committee Experts asked about improvements in the courts on their dealing with sexual harassment cases. They also asked for details on investigations and penalties carried out. They asked Botswana to describe the measures adopted to combat physical and sexual violence against women.
The Committee Experts asked for information on any steps taken by Botswana to ensure that the State party’s legislation, including on matters of marriage, divorce, equality of property and other legal rights of spouses and related questions, prohibited all forms of discrimination in all spheres and on all grounds, as set out in the Covenant, and provided for effective administrative and judicial remedies. According to reports, the Committee had been informed about persistent discrimination in Botswana. Was the State party planning improvement/amendment of legislation in this regard? The Experts asked about measures taken to increase women’s representation in public life, as well as measures to eliminate or at least raise awareness of discriminatory practices in families and harmonise customary laws and practices, which restricted women’s rights in relation to marriage, custody of children born outside of wedlock, divorce, adoption, inheritance, burial, property rights and others.
Noting several measures taken by Botswana to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the country, the Committee expressed concerns for the final determination of the Court of Appeal in the case of Motshidiemang. What was the intended goal envisaged by the Government when it filed an appeal against the unconstitutionality ruling of the High Court? On a related note, in Botswana, a significant volume of legal issues was dealt with in the customary court proceedings. Could the delegation provide the Committee with any statistical data and information regarding how the customary courts addressed cases of discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons during the reporting period?
The Committee Experts asked for specific information on the specialised training that responded to the distinctive nature and requirements for documenting torture and ill-treatment, in reference to the Istanbul Protocol. In particular, they asked about the situation of accused persons who had been declared unfit and then admitted to a mental institution, including the number of such persons and their duration of detention. The delegation was asked to further elaborate the foremost challenges and obstacles that hindered the law enforcement efforts of the Government in combatting trafficking and forced labour? The Committee also enquired about the intention of the Government to conduct a thorough review of these legal provisions with a view to improving deterrent effect of penalties against trafficking offences.
The Committee Experts expressed concerns about the reservation of Botswana regarding the definition of torture in the legislation and whether it was compatible with the Covenant. They asked for further clarifications on the definition and the practical applications concerning torture in Botswana. Furthermore, the Experts enquired about the measures that the State party had taken to prevent torture and other inhuman treatments, investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for torture, and provide effective reparation, including adequate compensation to victims. Finally, they asked about the situation in prisons and pre-trial detention centres in Botswana, including data on the number of prisoners and detainees, and information about the procedures through which they could submit cases to the Ombudsman.
Replies by the Delegation
Botswana had taken immediate measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including through the establishment of a task force, which ensured that all steps were taken to safeguard the population, the delegation said. All vulnerable groups were provided with food and access to health services remained open. Support was provided to businesses. Schools remained open. Additional funding was also provided. Regarding torture, the delegation said that while Botswana did not condone torture and cruel, inhuman treatment, no measures had been taken to lift its reservations to articles 7 and 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Law enforcement officers were not above the law and laws protected the right to life and ensured the investigation of any complaints. Whistleblowing was allowed in law. Botswana held officials accountable to ensure fair and transparent treatment of any person in the country.
The Office of the Ombudsman operated as a national human rights institution. Regarding the Paris Principles, the delegation envisaged full compliance, once legal amendments were completed in Botswana. The delegation explained the particularities of the judicial system in the State party, which followed the English system, where the Court of Appeal was the highest court in the land. Regarding the appeal of the Letsweletse Motshediemang v. Attorney General case, the decision of the Court of the Appeal was expected in a few days or weeks. The delegation noted that the society had nothing against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, who were considered as “brothers” and “sisters”.
The delegation pointed out particular provisions in the Constitution ensuring the independence of the Attorney General and prosecutors in their work and decisions. The standards of legislative drafting were ensured by a special division staffed by highly qualified legislative experts, and it sometimes took longer to implement international legislation, but this was only to ensure the highest standards when drafting the new law. Concerning one comment that Botswana signed and ratified instruments, and then took its time to domesticate them into national laws, the delegation said that the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child were implemented in the Children’s Act, which was one of the best pieces of legislation in Botswana.
On the death penalty in Botswana, the delegation said the issue of amending the Constitution and abolishing the death penalty was a political issue and a legislative issue. The Court of Appeal had spoken on this matter and for now this was the position of the law. The delegation stressed the importance of public opinion, which had clearly expressed its support for keeping the death penalty in 1997. The Government was committed to the rule of law and it could not do anything against the Constitution.
The establishment of the National Human Rights Coordinating Committee had been a great success, the delegation said. The Government had established it in the most inclusive way, as strengthening the reporting obligations was essential for Botswana. A system was envisaged to cluster the recommendations and consider them accordingly. The head of the delegation also emphasised the importance of the rule of law for Botswana. Regarding the equal participation of women, the delegation said women held high positions in the public and private sector, following efforts taken to increase their representation. The Government worked with civil society organizations in this direction, including considering the issue of the presentation of women in the media. Additional funding had been provided by the Government to promote gender equality and to combat gender-based violence, including opening a new shelter for victims of gender violence. The Government was engaged with religious leaders on this issue. The Government also mobilised men throughout the country to promote a culture with zero tolerance for violence towards women. The delegation provided information about two projects developed to support victims of gender-based violence, as well as people who suffered from HIV/AIDS.
Follow-up Questions by the Committee Experts
Committee Experts asked about the clemency procedure. According to the information received, no ruling was taken based on the appeals for this procedure. Regarding violence against women and children, the Committee noted the increased numbers of such cases, and asked for new data and explanations from the delegation. The Experts asked about the status of criminalisation of marital rape in Botswana. Following a report on the insufficiency of shelters for victims of sexual violence, the Committee asked about the measures taken by the State party to improve the situation. There was a question concerning the measures taken by Botswana following the COVID-19 pandemic in prisons and detainee centres. Furthermore, the Committee enquired about fines and penalties for children engaged in prostitution. Concerning underreporting of gender violence cases, despite the fact that there were high statistics reported on such cases, the delegation was asked to provide information on what measures the Government was taking to improve the situation. The Committee also asked about the division of work between national judiciary bodies, in relation to the reservation made by Botswana to article 7 of the Covenant.
Replies by the Delegation
The delegation provided explanations on the issue of marital rape in national legislation. Currently, rape that happened within the domestic premises was not criminalised. The separation of duties between the judiciary, police and prosecutors were clearly defined. Deliberate actions had been carried out to appoint women at Director’s level in public life. Other initiatives included the training of women to prepare them for public speech and media representation. There were initiatives undertaken to improve the status of women in politics as well.
Human trafficking officers, including officials working at the borders or at the police departments, were trained. Regarding labour inspections, they were also carried in farms. An amendment bill was currently being drafted on human trafficking. There was a continuous improvement of investigations, and therefore public trust was rising and reporting was increasing. There had also been a continuous improvement of investigation of gender-based violence cases, as well as torture cases.
The clemency procedure in Botswana provided for a possible pardon granted by the President. When a convict faced the Court of Appeal, the procedure was that the Attorney General would prepare a written report of the case together with other information, and a Committee would meet to examine the facts. The delegation assured that there no executions were held before the Committee met. Presidents had pardoned many cases, and they made the final decision. The applicability of customary law was subject to careful examination. The customary courts would usually have minor cases in front of them. The delegation assured that where customary laws were not in conjunction with international laws, they would not be applied. Some marriage rituals and practices were carried out in Botswana with respect and dignity and they were not discriminatory in any way.
When the state of the emergency was declared, the Government took measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in prisons. Some prisoners were pardoned, while new prisoners were quarantined before detention.
Questions by the Committee Experts
Committee Experts asked for information on measures adopted by Botswana to ensure that all persons applying for international protection were given access to fair and efficient asylum procedures, protection against refoulment, and an independent appeal mechanism with suspensive effect against negative decisions on asylum. The delegation was asked to report on efforts made to ensure adequate training of tribal judges, particularly pertaining to the Penal Code, the basis for their decisions in criminal cases, and to raise awareness of the right to appeal against customary court decisions through the civil court system. The Committee was interested to hear whether the Refugee Bill would be consistent with the State party’s obligations under article 6 (right to life), article 7 (prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment) and article 13 (procedural guarantee in the expulsion of foreigners). The Committee also enquired about detailed information on its current drafting process and the compatibility of the Bill with the State party’s obligations under the Covenant.
Regarding stateless persons and children, a Committee Expert noted that there were no specific laws or provisions aimed at reducing or preventing statelessness, or granting protection to stateless persons in Botswana. Had a discussion started in the Government and Parliament to revise existing legislation by 2024 in order to enable the State party to implement sufficiently the obligations under the 1954 United Nations Convention and the Covenant? The Committee also asked for information on the concrete efforts that Botswana had made to provide legal guarantees for children born in the State party, who would otherwise be stateless, to acquire Botswana nationality? Did Botswana have any plan to amend its Citizenship Act to prevent and reduce statelessness?
A Committee Expert asked about legislation in the Penal Code allowing the Government to investigate people who expressed opinions against public figures, in particular the President. How many cases were there of journalists who had been investigated, prosecuted and tried? In relation to the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Act, there was a provision for a fine or a five-year jail term for journalists using “source(s) other than the Director of Health Services or the World Health Organization” when reporting on COVID-19. The Committee Expert asked for number of cases and other measures taken under this Act.
In terms of the freedom of assembly, while the Constitution of the State party guaranteed it, the Committee had received information that, in practice, the Public Order Act required citizens to apply to the nearest police for a permit to hold an assembly, and police had sometimes denied requests for unclear reasons. The Committee Expert asked if the Public Order Act of the State party had been applied in conformity with those tests. Would the State party indicate the measures it had taken and/or intended to take to make the application of the law in question strictly compatible with the requirements under article 21? Furthermore, the Committee had also received allegations that police officers sometimes used force to compel gathering people to disperse. In this regard, the Expert asked for information on legal provisions and practical guidelines under which police officers may resort to force, and any training programme, if any, for police and other law enforcement officers to respect and ensure the right of peaceful assembly.
A Committee Expert noted the progress made in legal aid provisions but expressed concerns about reported incidents where courts proceeded with trials of those charged with non-capital crimes without legal representation when they could not afford an attorney. There was an urgent need to expand the legal aid provisions to include all persons facing criminal charges so that basic due process protections were guaranteed to defendants at all stages of the trial process. The Committee Expert asked for clearly defined statistics. The Expert also asked about the way Botswana dealt with cases in the customary courts.
The scale and scope of electronic surveillance, which had sharply increased in recent years, was concerning. Furthermore, the Committee was troubled at the lack of a sufficient independent oversight mechanism over the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services that reportedly had contributed to a growing climate of fear and chilling effect on journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians. In this respect, a Committee Expert asked about the measures taken by Botswana during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the right to privacy was protected (collection and management of personal data). The Expert also enquired about a database website, which was not functioning but was supposed to contain documents of Botswana’s international human rights commitments.
On the independence of the judiciary, the Committee noted a few reports observing the progress of the State party in this field. Nevertheless, there was a problem in the relation between the President and the judiciary, namely the Court of the Appeal. Referring to the Law Society of Botswana and Motumise v. the President of Botswana and two others, the Committee Expert greeted the decision and asked what happened following this decision. Furthermore, the Expert asked about the removal of four judges because they had prepared a critical petition. A problem with the judiciary personnel had also been observed, and the Expert asked whether sufficient people were employed.
Asking about indigenous peoples, the Committee Expert referred to the concrete case of Roy Sesana and others v. the Attorney General, which was decided by the High Court of Botswana in 2006. In its decision, the High Court found that the indigenous groups concerned were deprived of lawful possession of their land and that the Government's subsequent decisions to refuse to allow former residents to return to the reserve without a permit were unlawful and unconstitutional. The Committee asked for the current status of these people.
A Committee Expert asked about details of the way the Assembly of Chiefs was functioning in Botswana (the Ntlo ya Dikgosi).
Finally, the Committee Expert asked about child labour in Botswana, and plans to amend the 2009 Children’s Act, especially in order to include commercial sexual exploitation in the definition of child trafficking, without requiring the use of force, coercion or movement? What efforts were being made to raise awareness among relevant professionals and parents about the harmful impact of corporal punishment on children, as well as to consider legal amendments. The delegation was asked to provide assistance to children crossing the border. Also, what were the measures taken to ensure that all children were not discriminated against, including a possibility to speak their own language?
Replies by the Delegation
The delegation noted that there were two official languages in Botswana: English and Tswana. The refugees in Botswana were not only from neighbouring countries but from all over the world. The procedure that the Committee followed when dealing with refugees was in accordance with the United Nations’ procedure as drafted in their guidelines. There was a project to build housing for migrants who did not have shelter to keep the families together. A bill had been circulated to regulate refugee matters. Regarding management of data, the State party followed the national regulations as described.
The Employment Act was currently being reviewed, including concerning children and heavy and dangerous labour. Botswana had ratified four conventions, which minimalised unfair treatment of children. There seemed to be a preference for alternative legislation when it regarded children. Corporal punishment was covered in the Child Act, but the delegation noted that it was not commonly observed. Another two initiatives promoted discussions to raise awareness among society on the issue of corporal punishment.
Police officers were trained to use minimal force, ensuring that human rights were preserved, including in the cases of assemblies. On the issue of use of surveillance, no legal provisions were breached, and such measures were used in accordance with national legislation. Legal aid was very costly and it was not possible to keep record in details as asked by the Committee. Regarding the dismissal of four judges, the delegation ensured that there was no breach of freedom of expression or their independence. In the judiciary system, customary cases could be transferred to the Higher Court. On the procedure of the selection of the judiciary and the prosecutors, the delegation said that they were recruited like other public officials. Relevant training was provided to all judiciary officials, but still improvements could be achieved.
Botswana explained measures taken by the State party to ensure the preservation of natural resources, as well as the wellbeing of the local population. Regarding the database, which was created to provide support for the promotion of international human rights commitments, the Government had decided that improvements were needed. In particular, there was a need to regularly update information from local focal points during reporting to the different United Nations treaty bodies. The database should be used as a continuous monitoring evaluation and hopefully, next time, the new digital system would facilitate the reporting of the delegation as a whole.
The Government was ensuring that continuous education was achieved throughout Botswana, particularly in rural areas. This was the main mechanism through which the delegation planned to advertise knowledge of the United Nations convections and other obligations. The delegation confirmed that the process of amending the Constitution had involved all the tribes in Botswana. The decisions of the Assembly of Chiefs (the Ntlo ya Dikgosi) were advisory; they were very well respected, but they did not have legislative powers.
A Committee Expert asked about cases of holding people for longer periods of time under pre-trial detention than the maximum period provided for in legislation, 36 months, instead of six. Were there any plans to shorten the duration of pre-trial detention in legislation? The Committee noted that there was no provision for local community broadcasting. What measures were being taken by the State party to ensure that the local communities could also communicate in their own language in the media? What measures had been undertaken by Botswana to increase sustainable development in the country, as regards climate change in particular. What efforts had been undertaken to ensure that customary courts worked up to speed? A Committee Expert asked about children in rural areas, who had to travel a long way to their schools. The delegation was asked about the independence of the Ombudsman Office, including provisions for appointing the Ombudsman. What budget was envisaged for this Office? The Expert acknowledged the established procedures and institutions for anti-human trafficking, but expressed concerns about the lack of reported cases. The Expert asked about the accountability of the public prosecution, as well as the intelligence services.
Follow-up Replies by the Delegation
The delegation said there was an ongoing consultation for revising provisions that would ensure better protection for journalists and media freedom as a whole in Botswana. Still, freedom of expression was assured in the State party without any restrictions, including in Parliament. There was an education programme providing for the opportunity for children in primary school to be taught in their mother tongue. The Ombudsman would be dealing with issues of human rights promotion and protection. National policies and procedures were envisaged to control the distribution of natural resources. Botswana was also taking measures to increase the access of minority groups to education. Regarding pretrial detention, the delegation explained that the criminal procedure assured justice was preserved in the country.
KABO NEALE SECHELE MORWAENG, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration of Botswana and head of the delegation, said the Government maintained a robust consultative approach to policy development and legislative process. This was a system of governance that ensured that the voices of ordinary citizens were respected and taken into account in the social, economic and political process that affected them the most, giving full effect to the full enjoyment of human rights across board. The delegation took due note of the views of the Committee, including the importance of harnessing information technology in order to give a wider appreciation of the provisions of the Covenant.
YADH BEN ACHOUR, Committee Member, thanked the delegation members for their comprehensive responses on the domestic system of Botswana and the legislative reforms, among others. He welcomed the importance that Botswana attached to international standards. The Committee was satisfied with the frank exchange of views on issues, including the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the views of the delegation on the death penalty, electronic surveillance, the absolute declaration and upholding of the prohibition of torture, the rights of children and indigenous groups, and the distribution of resources.