Monday, February 9, 2009

Right of reply by Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Coordinator BGCIS – “DISS Power of Arrest defined by Law”

source: Republic of Botswana (9/2/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 2 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

C1) 9/2/09: Right of reply by Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Coordinator BGCIS – “DISS Power of Arrest defined by Law”

In an article entitled “Has DIS started abductions” the Mmegi newspaper misleadingly reported that “The Government spokesman Dr. Jeff Ramsay recently said DISS [i.e. Directorate of Intelligence and Security] agents are not supposed to identify themselves when they arrest suspects because they are on clandestine missions”.

As I have not spoken to Mmegi about the issue I can only assume that that above attribution is a loose interpretation of a response I gave during a radio interview, where did acknowledge the obvious fact that DISS officers would at times operate undercover, but where I was also unwilling to discuss an alleged detention incident for which I had no knowledge.

What I also observed over the radio, and take this opportunity to here reiterate in greater detail, is that the DISS, like all organs of Government, functions within a legal framework. In this respect its operations are clearly defined and regulated by provisions of the Intelligence and Security Act of 2007.

The powers of arrest by DISS personnel without a warrant are specified in Section 21 of the Act, while Section 22 sets out the conditions under which the Director General DISS must apply for a warrant from a senior magistrate or a judge of the High Court.

Section 21, among other things, states that: “An officer or support staff authorized in that behalf by the Director General may, without warrant, arrest a person if he or she reasonably suspects that person has committed or is about to commit an offence referred to in this Act”

Section 21 (3)(b) further states that a officer may “for the purpose of effecting an arrest, enter and search any premises or place if he or she has reason to believe that there is in the premises or place a person who is to be arrested.”

Section 21 (4) goes further to mandate that: “An officer or support staff shall not enter any premises or place under subsection (3) unless the officer or support staff has first stated that he or she is an officer or support staff and the purpose for which he or she seeks entry and produced his or her identity card to any person requesting production.”

Section 21 (8) further specifies that: “That an officer or support staff shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, take a person arrested under this section to as police station to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act.”

With respect to conduct of DISS officers and support staff Section 16 (1) of the Act is also explicit in stating that: “An officer or support staff shall not – (a) engage in the activities of any political party or act as an agent of such party; or (b) in the performance of his or her functions or the exercise of his or her powers under this act – (i) subject any person to torture or to any other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; or 9ii0 enter or search any private premises except with a warrant issued pursuant to section 22.”

Section 16 (2) goes on to unequivocally state that: “An officer or support staff who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall be guilty of an offence.”

From the above excerpts of the Act, it should be clear that the powers of arrest by DISS personnel are clearly defined by law, which further forbids the sort of abuses that have been recently alleged in the pages of the Mmegi newspaper and elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Well...JEFF RAMSAY finds legal statutes soooooooooooooooooooo
Nevertheless he ought to know:


Anonymous said...

The more I read,hear and learn about Botswana,the more and more I get disappointed.

After watching CNN'S "African Voices",I was very entusiastic about Botswana and EVEN wanted to visit soon.

Regrettably I am now of the opinion some persons in Botswana want to govern it like their EXTENDED family.