DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights was established in 1993 and since then has remained the only organisation in Botswana dealing with varied aspects of human rights. We work to advocate for changes in laws, policies and practices, and to raise public awareness of rights and responsibilities. We also provide paralegal services to those earning less than the minimum wage.
We work in partnership with other rights-focused organisations in Botswana, including those which work on gender equality, freedom of expression and information, children and youth, and indigenous peoples. Complementing the work of our partners, we focus on issues least supported by others, including migrant workers (ex-Botswana miners who worked in apartheid-era gold mines) and domestic workers. We conduct campaigns on issues such as the abolition of the death penalty in Botswana, bullying, and development and rights issues related to the effective forced relocation of the Basarwa / San from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
DITSHWANELO works in coalitions. We are a member of and secretariat for the UPR NGO Working Group, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve NGO Coalition and the Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Southern Africa (BOCISCOSA). We are a member of the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN).
OUR THEMATIC AREAS
The work of DITSHWANELO is organised under the three (3) focal themes of Access to Justice,
Regional Solidarity and Awareness-raising and Accountability.
1. Access to Justice: thisincludes the enabling of persons to live their lives with dignity, using various means to protect their right. These include ability to have legal representation to protect one’s rights; resolution of conflict through mediation; enabling access to information, etc. Focal areas include: provision of free paralegal counselling; Domestic Workers Association which provides legal and mediation assistance in labour-related matters; death penalty lobbying and advocacy for a moratorium on the death penalty in Botswana; and advocacy for claims for compensation for former Botswana miners who worked in mines in apartheid South African.
2. Regional Solidarity: Our regional work began in 1996, when we initiated the establishment of the Southern African Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRINGON). It was aimed at building regional solidarity between civil society organisations. In 2000, DITSHWANELO began its solidarity work on Zimbabwe, working in partnership with Zimbabwean civil society organizations. In 2006, DITSHWANELO became the Secretariat for the newly-formed Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ). In 2023 it broadened its focus and is now known as the Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Southern Africa (BOCISCOSA). Focal areas are: Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Human Rights Defenders, Migration in Southern Africa.
3. Awareness-raising and Accountability: Awareness-raising is conducted through workshops, school lectures, school exhibitions, lobbying of diplomats and government officials and the holding of the annual human rights film festival. Accountability work includes monitoring state actions and submission of shadow reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the Special Procedures mechanisms of the United Nations, including for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) sessions of the Human Rights Council.