•Botswana government guilty of ‘degrading treatment’
•Case described as ‘a harrowing story of human suffering and despair’
In a momentous decision, Botswana’s Court of Appeal today quashed a ruling that denied the Kalahari Bushmen access to water on their ancestral lands.
With support from Survival, the Bushmen appealed a 2010 High Court judgment that prevented them from accessing a well which they rely on for water. The panel of five Appeal Court judges has found that:
•the Bushmen have the right to use their old borehole, which the government had banned them from using
•the Bushmen have the right to sink new boreholes
•the government’s conduct towards the Bushmen amounted to ‘degrading treatment’.
•the government must pay the Bushmen’s costs in bringing the appeal.
Celebrating after the decision, a Bushman spokesman said, ‘We are very happy that our rights have finally been recognized. We have been waiting a long time for this. Like any human beings, we need water to live. We also need our land. We pray that the government will now treat us with the respect we deserve.’