Spokesperson for the First People of Kalahari (FPK) Roy Sesana announced Jan. 19 that his organization plans to take its land dispute case against the Botswana government to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The FPK is an advocacy group representing San, or Bushmen people who were relocated by the government from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in 1997. Sesana said that peace talks with President Ian Khama had broken down and that the FPK would initiate proceedings in the ICJ because previous court orders granting land rights to the Bushmen have been ignored.
In 2006, the High Court of Botswana ruled that the government’s eviction of Bushmen inhabiting the Kalahari desert was “unlawful and unconstitutional.” The suit was brought by 239 members of the San tribe aided by FPK and Survival International. The Bushmen, whose ancestors have lived in the Kalahari desert for 20,000 years, claim that 12 percent of their fellow plaintiffs died in settlement camps since the government evicted them from the beginning in 1997. The Bushmen claimed that the eviction was motivated by the government’s interest in increasing diamond mining operations, but the government cited concerns over the Bushmens’ opposition to conservation efforts as the primary reason. (Jurist, Jan. 20)