Good pursues fight for justice

April 28, 2006

An academic expelled from Botswana is buoyed by international support, writes Geoff Maslen in Melbourne.

The Australian academic expelled from Botswana after teaching in the country for 15 years has taken his case to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. A hearing is expected next month into Ken Good's expulsion, but the court will probably not announce its findings until December.

Dr Good was a professor of political science at the University of Botswana until he was declared a prohibited immigrant in February 2005 by President Festus Mogae and forced under armed guard to leave the country in May.

Colleagues suspected that a paper critical of the Government's growing authoritarianism was behind the decision. President Mogae said after the deportation that Dr Good had threatened national security by describing the country's key export commodity as "blood diamonds", an allegation Dr Good denies.

Dr Good, who is 72, said while the commission could not enforce its judgments, its opinion carried weight. "I don't think the Government would take it lightly if a finding against it were made - and that becomes increasingly likely given decisions such as the House of Lords debate last month."

Dr Good is now an honorary research fellow at the University of Melbourne.

He has had no income for more than a year and, as his Botswana contract does not expire until the end of 2006, he believes the university owes him 18 months' salary and benefits, a total of more than $US100,000 (Pounds 56,000).

Last August, the university offered him six months' salary to the end of 2005, plus an air fare to Australia for his daughter Clara. Dr Good considered this insufficient and premature as his appeal was before the Botswana High Court. But immediately after the court dismissed his appeal the university stopped paying his salary.

Dr Good sought advice from David Fani, the university's director of legal services, but was informed that, as neither party was responsible for him being unable to fulfil his contract, no claim could be made.

Dr Good said the university had made no official statement since he was declared a prohibited immigrant, although he had received strong support from students and fellow academics - and from vice-chancellor Bojosi Otlhogil.

"From the beginning, on February 18, when I was declared a prohibited immigrant, Professor Otlhogil has been very helpful. The vice-chancellor is a legal academic of some standing and was with us most of the time offering suggestions on actions we should take," Dr Good said. "But I've heard nothing from him since."

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