The Southern African Editors' Forum (SAEF) has called on the United Nations Human and People's Rights Commission and the African Union to sanction Botswana for a proposed law that it fears could curtail basic freedoms in the country.
SAEF chairperson Willie Mponda said the proposed Criminal Procedure and Evidence Bill, which is being fast-tracked through parliament, would have “serious ramifications” for Botswana and the rest of southern Africa.
The SAEF called on the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and the AU to intervene and force Botswana to withdraw the bill.
“The bill, in its current format, is dangerous as it forces the disclosure of information by citizens including journalists and allows intelligence officers to use fake identities while providing them immunity from prosecution," he said.
The bill will allow the Botswana government to intercept communication among individuals and organisations as well as force the media or anyone suspected of engaging in activities considered to be harmful to the country’s interests to disclose the sources of their information.
The concern by SAEF follows similar misgivings last week by the Botswana Editors' Forum, Botswana Press Association and the local chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa, which accused the Botswana government of trying to stifle press freedom in the country.