Human Trafficking in  [Botswana]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Botswana]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Botswana]  [other countries]
Torture in  [Botswana]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                          


Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $13,300 in 2008.

On the downside, the government must deal with high rates of unemployment and poverty. Unemployment officially was 23.8% in 2004, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. HIV/AIDS infection rates are the second highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond mining production overshadows long-term prospects.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Botswana

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Botswana.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

DIS in P2.9m torture lawsuit

Tshireletso Motlogelwa, Staff writer, Mmegi On Line, Issue: Vol.30 No.102, 11 July 2013

[accessed 12 July 2013]

The man who alleges that he was arrested, detained, interrogated and threatened with violence at the hands of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) agents is suing the spy agency for P2.9 million.

In the letter Tlhage puts the AG, Isaac Kgosi (head of DIS), Commissioner of Police and two other operatives as defendants.

The letter furthers says that although Tlhage was not convicted of any offence, he was fingerprinted and had photos of him taken and  "made to feel like a criminal and repeatedly accused of being a threat to national security and the government of the day”. It is alleged members of DIS specifically Kgosi, and the two agents took turns "interrogating, taunting, denigrating and threatening Tlhage with torture and violence; saying that if he did not tell them what he said about the President they had "mechanisms" which could make him talk and they would not hesitate to use them on him if he did not talk".

Tlhale argues that this treatment amounted to "unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and ... abuse of power" since he did not commit any crime but rather only made utterances about the President which were not "unlawful". He further maintains that the remarks he made "are permissible and or protected as part of freedom of expression and or permissible in a democratic society such as Botswana”. He was later "unlawfully" detained at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport Police Station for 30 hours.  Tlhage is demanding compensation from the police as well for their collaboration with the DIS.

Policing and Human Rights -- Assessing southern African countries’ compliance with the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for Police Officials

Edited by Amanda Dissel & Cheryl Frank, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum APCOF, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-920489-81-6

[accessed 25 March 2014]


No police official shall, under any circumstances, inflict, instigate, or tolerate any act of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any person.

Although the Constitution and the laws of Botswana prohibit torture and inhuman treatment of people, there are reports that the police often ‘beat and abuse suspects to obtain evidence or elicit confessions’ from persons in their custody.  It is alleged that torture is rife among suspects who are categorised as ‘high risk’, that is involved in diamonds and narcotics, serious crime, car theft and armed robbery. The units that are alleged to be notorious for torture and inhuman  treatment are Military Intelligence (MI), the Crime Intelligence Division (CID) and lately the Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS).

The security agencies have been under the spotlight since the advent of the DIS. There are not only allegations of conflation of roles and blurred areas of jurisdiction between the DIS and the police, but there are also allegations of incidents of unlawful arrest, detention, torture and humiliation when suspects are asked to ‘strip naked’.  The DIS is also alleged to have a ‘sound-proof torture chamber’ where confessions are extracted through suffocation through the use of a ‘plastic bag’, a ‘rubber tube’ or a hosepipe, which is allegedly used to ‘whip people on the soles of their feet’.116 However, these allegations are difficult to prove, except where there are obvious physical wounds and scars.

Press Mugabe to End Crackdown

Human Rights Watch, Johannesburg, 29 March 2011

[accessed 21 January 2013]

On February 19, six civil society activists, including a labor activist, Munyaradzi Gwisai, were arbitrarily arrested by police and are facing charges of treason and attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means for viewing a video of the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. The six, who were among 45 people arrested at the meeting, spent three weeks in custody before they were released on bail. The activists told their lawyers that they were beaten, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement.

Human Rights Reports » 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2009

[accessed 21 January 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The constitution and law prohibit such practices; however, there were reports that security forces occasionally beat and abused suspects to obtain evidence or elicit confessions. During the year the Botswana Police Service (BPS) investigated three abuse complaints. For example, in October the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) allegedly tortured, by beating and suffocation during an extended interrogation, four men, including two police officers and two soldiers, after a weapon in their possession went missing. An investigation was ongoing at year's end.

There were no developments in the March 2007 case in which two men facing robbery and murder charges stated that threats and beatings were used to obtain their confessions.

In October a magistrate ruled in the trial of five soldiers and two police special constables accused of forcing several Zimbabwean detainees to perform sex acts on each other in 2005. The five Botswana Defense Force (BDF) members were convicted of indecent assault, and they awaited sentencing at year's end. The two special constables were acquitted of the charge.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 2   Civil Liberties: 2   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 21 January 2013]

Authorities have been reported to occasionally use beatings and other forms of abuse to obtain evidence and elicit confessions. Botswana has been criticized by rights groups for continuing to use corporal and capital punishment.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Botswana",, [accessed <date>]



Human Trafficking in  [Botswana]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Botswana]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Botswana]  [other countries]
Torture in  [Botswana]  [other countries]