Ditshwanelo calls for abolishment of death penalty

GABORONE - Death penalty should be abolished because it violates the right to life.

Representing the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) working group before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution Wednesday, Ms Alice Mogwe said the form of punishment subjected those on death row was inhumane and degrading, hence it should have no place in society.

Ms Mogwe further said the UPR NGO Working Group, which comprises Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), Ditshwanelo, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo), Letloa Trust, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA - Botswana) and Rainbow Identity Association (RIA), also wanted corporal punishment to be abolished for the same reasons.

On a different matter, she proposed for the constitution to explicitly recognise the doctrine of the separation of powers by ensuring that the three arms of government operated independently to prevent the concentration of powers in one or one’s domination over others.

Regarding oversight institutions, Ms Mogwe said the constitution should "commit to, and protect the effective independence of oversight institutions by safeguarding their impartiality and effectiveness.
Institutions created by Acts of Parliament such as Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, IEC, Office of the Ombudsman should be directly accountable to Parliament.”

In addition, she said the law should compel all state agencies to assist the oversight institutions in the discharge of their constitutional mandates.

She further proposed that Parliament should be enjoined by law to approve all agreements which require ratification and that all agreements requiring parliamentary approval must be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

On the judiciary, Ms Mogwe said the ‘Judicial Services Commission (JSC) should be impartial and its membership should include a broad representation of the legal fraternity and political parties’.

On the appointment of the Chief Justice and the Judge President, the UPR NGO Working Group proposed that the exercise should not be left to the president alone, but that it should be done in consultation with a parliamentary committee responsible for legal and judicial matters as well as the Law Society of Botswana and NGOs.

She said the appointment of judges should follow the same transparent process that entails the JSC called for nominations and conducting public interviews of candidates to determine their suitability for the positions.

On Section 124 of the Constitution that establishes the office of the Auditor General, Ms Mogwe said the law must be amended to provide for the office bearer to report directly to Parliament and not to the Minister of Finance as presently provided for in law.

This, she said would reduce the use of public funds without parliamentary approval.

Furthermore, Ms Mogwe proposed that the law should make the recommendations of the Auditor General to be made obligatory.

In addition, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should not only be recognised by the Constitution, but should also be strengthened. The UPR NGO Working Group further asked for the constitution to acknowledge and recognise second generation rights such as the right to education, quality and affordable healthcare, right to equitable access to land, and the protection of the right to cultural and social identity.

Also, they requested for the law to guarantee the right to equality before the law ‘to ensure that everyone has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law, without discrimination, and has full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms’. BOPA