- Civic groups the latest to raise concerns
- DISS says that allegations peddled are meant to scandalise and nefariously mischaracterize its role
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) has joined the bandwagon of organs that are concerned about the Directorate of Security Services (DISS)’s alleged actions of human rights violations.
Through the press statement, the grouped civic societies comprising of among others Ditshwanelo and Letloa Trust challenged the government to uphold the principles of human rights in the constitution by ensuring that the DISS does not violate human rights and is accountable to its citizens. The NGOs stated that the recent reports about alleged actions of the DISS risk violating the constitutionality protected rights to liberty and security.
“We urge the government to continue to uphold the principles of human rights in our constitution, by ensuring that the DISS does not violate human rights. We are concerned about the recent media reports of alleged actions of the DISS, as these risk violating the constitutionality protected rights to liberty and security,” the civic groups stated.
The civic groups stated that from its establishment in 2008, there have been concerns raised about the mandate of the DISS and its respect for human rights. “There were worrying signs after the DISS was launched that its agents were operating differently from those in the directorate’s predecessors, the Security Intelligence Service and the Special Branch. The secrecy surrounding the directorate’s activities have sparked recurrent rumours and allegations,” the NGOs stated.
To emphasise, the security agency’s alleged actions of human rights violations, the NGOs stated that the United Nations Human Rights (UNHRC) also recently raised concern about the intrusive use of intelligence methods by the state security and intelligence agencies.
“Botswana appeared before the UNHRC on 20 and 21st October this year. The committee was concerned about the reports of increased monitoring of online activities and the intrusive use of intelligence methods by State security and intelligence agencies. To this regard, it was recommended that Botswana should ensure that all types of surveillance activities and interference with privacy, including online surveillance and interception of communications are governed by appropriate legislation that conforms with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” the NGOs stated.
The civic groups’ concerns come only few days after Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) also raised concerns over the DISS. The federation accused the security organ of becoming rogue and lacking respect to the laws and laid down democratic processes. Moreover, recently former cabinet Minister, Unity Dow also recently lashed out the DISS. She stated that the organ has derailed from its founding mandate.
Responding to BOFEPUSU’s similar concerns to the civic groups a fortnight ago, DISS Spokesperson Edward Robert denied the allegations of unlawful misconduct. Robert stated that that the allegations peddled are meant to scandalise and nefariously mischaracterize the role played by the DISS. “Beyond the usual disinformation calculated to place the DISS in the middle of controversy. The Directorate will never condone non-professionalism by its officers and will always take appropriate actions to support lawful conduct,” responded Robert.