In its edition of 10th January 2014, the Botswana Guardian published a story alleging that DIS officers are implicated in the torture of refugees at the Dukwi Refugee Camp. The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security would like to refute such allegations in the strongest terms. The Ministry takes great exception to such misinformation arising from the publication of untruths and unfounded allegations about security organs and its officials.
The newspaper in the same edition alleges that the water disconnection effected from the 9th December 2013 resulted in some refugees drinking their urine and that the disconnection was an attempt by the government to force the refugees to go back to their countries of origin as they are unwanted in Botswana. We would like to express disappointment in the manner in which the newspaper continues to publish fallacies about government institutions and policies.
It is common knowledge that due to the water shortages throughout the country, there have been water disconnections in the last month or so countrywide, a phenomenon that was effected in various institutions including schools and villages around the country.
We further wish to reaffirm that when water was cut off at Dukwi, water was immediately bowsed to the community to ensure basic needs are met. In our view the false allegation that members of the refugee community drink their urine show a lack of sensitivity as well as disregard for facts on the ground. We further see the peddling of such allegations as part of a deliberate attempt to tarnish the good image of the country.
Contrary to the Guardian’s alleged sources, the Ministry enjoys excellent relations with the UNHCR Office in Botswana and both parties have successfully executed projects which are of mutual benefit such as the recent collaboration in the settlement of the high water bills in the Camp to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC).
For the record, we wish to further confirm that Botswana is happy to continue hosting refugees and all those who flee their countries of origin on account of well founded fear of persecution. This is a commitment the country has held for over five decades now and continues to uphold.
In conclusion, we urge the Guardian newspaper and other publications to always verify information before it is published. We hold the newspaper liable for the damage caused to the institutions of government and the government officers portrayed in bad light and call for immediate retraction of the story under reference.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security