BOTSWANA: Access to justice for children

This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.

Botswana has ratified the CRC, but the Convention does not take precedence over national law nor is it directly applicable in the national courts, but the courts have recognised that domestic law should be interpreted in light of the Convention. Challenges in court must be brought through a child’s representative who have the support of a lawyer. Complaints can also be lodged with the Office of the Ombudsman. A legal aid programme exists under which children and their representatives can apply for free legal assistance, but its functionality is unclear. Violations of children’s rights can also be challenged by NGOs or groups of children. After national remedies have been exhausted, complaints can be lodged with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Discrimination against certain groups of children is still an issue in Botswana, specifically with regard to tribal communities, and customary courts are widely used to settle disputes.

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