Botswana to Implement Recommendations
Gaborone — Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Mr Shaw Kgathi has assured the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Justice, Defence, Security and Government Assurances that the ministry would work hard to ensure that Botswana implements the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) recommendations.
Briefing the committee on Tuesday, Minister Kgathi noted that the ministry's legislative programme was therefore aimed to ensure compliance to the recommendations, which sought to ensure that Botswana did not become a safe haven for money laundering and financing of terrorism.
He said failure to comply could have serious repercussions, hence the need for the country not to lag behind in its efforts to meet them.
"We are advised that failure to comply with the requirements of ESAAMLG can lead to Botswana being blacklisted internationally and all its financial transactions ad payments being interdicted," he stated.
Mr Kgathi said in order to meet the ESAAMLG requirements, there was going to be a lot of drafting of new laws as well as amendments of existing ones, which will be presented in Parliament both this year and in the 2018/19 financial year.
The minister however expressed contentment at the progress that had so far been made in that regard.
He said 15 pieces of legislation were presently at different stages to be either amended or reviewed completely.
He noted that during the past session of Parliament, three Acts, the Prisons Amendment Bill, the Interstate Transfer of Prisoners Bill and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court bill, had been passed.
He said the Arms and Ammunition bill, the Police Amendment bill and the Botswana Defence Force Amendment bill would be presented in the November session, adding that at the moment there were four Acts ready for consideration by cabinet.
These, he said, were the Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act, the Law Reform bill, the Penal Code Amendment bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
He further told the committee that the Anti-Human Trafficking Act and the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act were due to be reviewed for ESAAMLG compliance, adding that the group had also recommended new bills, the Biological Weapons and the Nuclear Weapons bills.
On other issues, Minister Kgathi, who is also Bobonong MP, indicated that there had been, since 2009, consistent reduction in the number of serious crimes each year, pegging the figure at 46 per cent.
"There has been consistent reductions in the number of violent, intrusive and serious crimes per annum, and taking 2008 as the base year, such crimes have by 2016 registered a decline of 46 per cent from 26 150 to 14 224 cases, almost half the magnitude recorded in 2008," he said.
Offences, he pointed out, included murder and attempted murder, rape and attempted rape, threat to kill, robbery and attempted robbery, burglary and theft as well as house break-in and theft.
Regarding prisoner population in Botswana, the minister said at the moment, prisoner population stood at 4 113 inmates as opposed to the authorised holding capacity of 4 337, a figure he said meant that the prisoner population was 5.16 per cent lower that the sanctioned holding capacity.
With regard to refugees, Minister Kgathi said there were 2 137 refugees and 494 asylum seekers in the country, the majority of whom he said were from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The minister also indicated that of the 494 asylum seekers, 360 had instituted court action against government challenging their detention at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.
He said the court ruled in favour of the asylum seekers, resulting in them being released to Dukwi Refugee Camp despite them not being bona-fide refugees.
By Keonee Kealeboga