Eritrean National Football players granted asylum in Botswana
The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) is pleased to announce that the ten members of the Eritrean National Football Team have been granted political asylum by the government of the republic of Botswana today the 28th of October 2015.
It is to be recalled that the ten Eritrean players who came to play world cup qualification match against Botswana refused to go back to their country and applied for political asylum on the 14th of October 2015. Subsequently, the Eritrean ambassador to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, Mr Saleh Omer, threatened the players to forcibly return them home. Faced with stiff resistance, the Ambassador defaced their passports by making holes through them. The Minister of Defense, Justice and Security of Botswana made a pronouncement that the Eritrean players would be deported back home.
To this effect the EMDHR approached their lawyer Bayford and Associates to launch an urgent application to stop the move by the ambassador and the government of Botswana. To that effect, the Botswana high court in Lobatse issued an order by consent on the 16th of October with the following decisions:
1. The Respondents (the Government of the Republic of Botswana) shall not remove from the jurisdiction of the Botswana certain Eritrean Nationals, all members of the Eritrean National Football Team, ten in number, who on or about 14th October, 2015 presented themselves to Botswana Government officials at Francistown seeking political asylum.
2. This Order together with all originating process and any pleading (if any) filed by the Respondents shall be served personally upon the asylum seekers by the Applicant within 14 days of this Order.
3. The parties shall file all pleading prior to the date of Status Hearing (11 Dec 2015); and
4. The Applicant's legal representatives shall have access to the asylum seekers.
After nearly two weeks the due process for the players’ asylum application has been completed. The Botswana government has now granted the ten Eritrean players political asylum. We are grateful to the government of Botswana for providing full protection to these ten Eritrean youngsters. This is clear demonstration of the prevailing rule of law in the country. We are grateful for the sympathy and solidarity shown by the people of Botswana, civil society and media. We are also highly appreciative tour lawyer Bayford and Associates for their commitment, dedication and professional handling of this highly sensitive case. We are also thankful to Eritreans across the globe for standing behind EMDHR and the players and taking ownership of the issue.
Eritrea is ruled by fear and not by law. It has no constitution, no parliament, no judiciary, and all forms of freedoms and rights are either banned or severely restricted. Citizens are often arbitrarily arrested, disappeared, tortured, and even extra-judicially executed. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea confirmed in 2015 the “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations” in the country. The Eritrean youth are at the receiving end of the regime’s ruthlessness and brutality. Today the youth are wasting their potential and talents in a forced and indefinite military conscription and doing forced labour. Today, Eritrea has become a country where even high school students are taken into a military training camp and forced labour programs. As a result these appalling conditions in their country, Eritrean youth are fleeing in mass seeking refuge in exile where they are granted asylum and hope to reconstruct their lives.
28 October 2015
Pretoria – South Africa
Tel: +27 72 196 3099 (South Africa) Tel: +26 77 545 8831 (Botswana)