- 1 448 officers have completed human rights training since 2019
- Govt sees the axing of the 16 as a strong warning against abuses
Sixteen police officers have been fired from Botswana Police Service due to human rights abuses while allegations of breach of human rights by police officers continue to be investigated, Botswana’s human rights record report to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group has revealed.
The firing of the 16 police officers is seen by the government as a strong message that abuse of human rights will not be tolerated in Botswana.
According to the report, a total of 1 448 police officers have completed human rights-related training since 2019 as a measure against abuse.
“Additionally, since 2020, 29 allegations of human rights breaches have been investigated, of which four cases, perpetrators were convicted, two being dismissed, whereas sixteen officers being dismissed,” states the report.
It says nine other officers are currently either under investigation, pending before the courts, or awaiting disciplinary hearings.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has received testimonies about excessive use of force by the police, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions.
Although magistrates are legally empowered to order medical examinations upon hearing of such allegations, if necessary, there are concerns that this is hardly ever done and the case proceedings continue.
According to the UN report, 1 000 pre-service trainees have been trained in human rights in the course of their training in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
Furthermore, 18 police officers of the rank of sergeant also went through the same training when attending a supervisory skills course.
In addition, the Botswana Police Act regulates administrative provisions relating to disciplinary sanctions imposed on perpetrators of torture in the Botswana Police Service.
The disciplinary sanctions that can be imposed on a perpetrator of torture include reprimand, severe reprimand, fine, reduction in rank, or dismissal.
The report says Botswana’s judicial system provides a further safeguard by considering a confession statement inadmissible evidence if it is recorded that the accused was coerced into making the confession by infliction of torture.