We applaud Law Society of Botswana on Media Practitioners Act

Staff Writer
MISA Botswana through an Annual General Meeting resolution would like to make public our appreciation and encouragement to the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) for their principled stance not to support the Media Practitioners Act.

Following their convention earlier in July, the law practitioners resolved not to respond to the requirement in the Act that expects them to provide a person to chair the Appeals Committee.

The LSB has adopted a very brave position considering the fact that it is expected by the law to participate in the implementation of the Act. We are confident that LSB adopted this position after a thorough scrutiny of the law and having considered all other options.

They have therefore decided to stand with democracy and human rights against the onslaught of the draconian law and its proponents. We need such organisations as LSB to be the eyes and ears of the society.

As experts in critical fields like that of justice, they do not have the luxury to remain on the fence on serious issues like development and enactment of laws.

Their resolution to withdraw their participation in the act is therefore seen by us and many in the international community as very progressive and in line with the general expectation on such an esteemed body.

LSB's critical role in the Act would have soiled its hands. The Act as we have always maintained is draconian and does not belong to a democracy like Botswana.

We realise that the powers that be are taking long to understand our position but in the meantime it is important that organisations that respect human rights and democracy must come into the open and make their

positions known. LSB must therefore rest assured that their stand resonates with what we expect them to stand for. We look at law practitioners as custodians of justice hence it would have been odd for them not to see the dangers posed by the MPA.

With its glaring threat to freedom of expression, the MPA deserves no support from anyone and we hope that those who have been cajoled into embracing the law would soon realise they are also the target of the act.

Media and law practitioners must realise that this nation depends on them to save it from degenerating into failure. The two can not afford to stay apart and must remain true guard dogs of both freedom of expression and justice.

They must also guard against going astray as this could compromise their integrity in the eyes of the public.

On another note, we also welcome recent calls made in parliament by some MPs for the law to be scrapped on grounds that it is not implementable.

Everything about this law from processes of its enactment to the appointment of its committees and councils has been flawed and we will support all calls to have the law scrapped.

MISA Botswana position on the law is known and we would like to call upon every citizen and every sector to protect this country's democracy by dissociating themselves from activities that aid the law and its implementation.

Laona Segaetsho
MISA (Botswana)



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