Namibian Refugees in Botswana fear persecution at home

Gaborone- Botswana (PANA) -- Lawyers representing 13 Namibian refugees in Botswana, wanted back home on charges ranging from treason to possession of firearms, argued Friday that their clients risked persecution on repatriation.
Lead lawyer Tengo Rubadiri pleaded with a Gaborone magistrate's Court to keep the refugees in Botswana because of fear of "unfair trial" and "elimination.
" He claimed that people in the same category as his clients were in the past brutally beaten and tortured to death by Namibian security forces.
Rubadiri produced, what he said were pictures of a former Namibian legislator, whose back was severely disfigured by police whips.
The lawyer therefore, argued that Botswana should reject the extradition request by the Namibian government.
Another lawyer for the refugees, Muna Motheu, said Botswana is signatory to a number of International Conventions, which binds it to refuse such requests.
"Botswana has been at the forefront of showing commitment to these (Conventions)," the lawyers said, adding that the Conventions have become International law.
They further argued that the Botswana Refugee Act empowered the country to protect refugees if there was "well founded fear" that they would be persecuted once extradited to their country.
The case was adjourned until July when the State Counsel will reply.

15 june 2001 22:05:00

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