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CAL@HRC38: Statement on civil society response to Botswana UPR

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) through our membership and partnership with the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) is participating in the second session of the Human Rights Council of 2018  (HRC38) taking place from 18 June to 6 July.

Today, on 28 June, Caroline Tagny, representing CAL, presented a statement drafted by members of civil society in Botswana that responds to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The full text of the statement is below.

Human Rights Council- 38th Session

Statement- Botswana UPR report

Thank you, Mr. President. We make this statement on behalf of The Botswana Group for Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and the Sexual Rights Initiative.  

We welcome Botswana’s invitation to the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and for agreeing to standing invitations for UN special procedures, but remain concerned by its unwillingness to put in place guarantees for civil society participation and space. We hope the government’s commitment to implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) will be extended also to accede and domesticate other international treaties.

We are also encouraged that Botswana will not further restrict access to safe and legal abortion. Botswana’s continued denial of the right to safe and legal abortion, lack of recognition of sex-work as work, as well as rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression undermine its commitment to the right to health for all and combating gender based violence and discrimination. The intersecting nature of various oppressions necessitates a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and we urge the government to consider this.

In keeping with its acceptance of the recommendation to “Further consolidate its social and human rights policies, particularly in the area of economic, social and cultural rights in order to improve the quality of life, particularly of the most vulnerable groups of its population”,  we call on the government of Botswana to:

  • Accept the recommendation to adopt legislation to protect victims of violence and other human rights violations, in line with resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Thereby protecting and promoting bodily autonomy and protecting queer women from violence.
  • Domesticate international conventions ratified by Botswana, such as CEDAW, to guarantee the rights of all women, including queer women, to live free from discrimination.

Thank you