MISA BOTSWANA IS APPALLED AND DISGUSTED BY THE RECENT ARREST OF JOURNALISTS.
It is with great concern that we learn about the detention of journalists at the instance of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (“DISS”). These actions are clearly calculated to chill the scrutiny of the media on the DISS, which has recently been implicated in several publications in electoral fraud, and actively promoting the institution of spurious criminal cases against citizens to advance partisan political objectives.
The scrutiny of the actions of the DISS by the media is consistent with its role as a constitutionally recognised oversight institution. The media would be failing in its duty if it does not investigate, scrutinize and report on the syphoning of public funds to promote certain political views and the propagation of propaganda. It is inconsistent with media freedoms and what is expected to prevail in a free and democratic society, for DISS to constantly involve itself in stifling certain viewpoints, while using tax funds to promote certain view points, through the media.
The DISS has since its establishment being the biggest achilles heels to our democracy and this has not changed, despite a change in leadership. The DISS remains a cesspit of corruption, bad governance and maladministration. The media must and should continue to fearlessly and unapologetically subject the DISS to scrutiny.
MISA Botswana stands unflinchingly in unison with the arrested journalists and their publication the Weekend Post, who upon the arrest of its employees acted swiftly to identify a legal practitioner to seek their release. We call upon the Botswana Police Service to immediately release the mobile phones of the arrested journalists and their camera, and to allow it to continue with their work which is of great interest and benefit to the public, unhindered and without intimidation.
We call upon the President to do more to reign in the DISS, and not allow it to continue to be a rogue and unaccountable institution that places itself above all laws and organs that are established by our constitution.