The African Charter provides that “A non-national legally admitted in a territory of a State Party to the present Charter, may only be expelled from it by virtue of a decision taken in accordance with the law” (Article 12(4)). In addition, international refugee law prohibits the return of persons in need of protection, creating a corollary obligation on the part of the state to provide the opportunity to make a claim of persecution as a defence against deportation.
There have been several high profile cases of prominent government critics being deported in an effort to silence them. Once of the most egregious of these cases was that of John Modise, who spent years either in the Bophuthatswana “homeland” of South Africa or trapped at the border between Botswana and South Africa because the government of Botswana refused to recognise his nationality. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights found Botswana in violation of several articles of the African Charter.