Journalists detained and threatened for investigative reporting
#Botswana🇧🇼: Detention & harassment of journalists investigating president’s holiday home #pressfreedom - @ink_cij - https://t.co/Jf40PyY253 pic.twitter.com/LjBBG7qBwq— CPJ Africa (@CPJAfrica) March 10, 2017
In March 2017, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting (OCCRP) project reported that the Botswana Intelligence Service had "briefly detained and threatened to kill three journalists as they were heading to one of President Ian Khama’s private residences to determine whether or not he was using public funds for renovations". The journalists were following the lead on a story that the president was using the military and state funds to renovate his private estate. During the brief detention, the journalists' phones were confiscated, and the security officers also searched and seized the journalists' property, including cameras. The journalists reported that the intelligence operatives threatened them, stating that if the journalists returned to the president's residence, "we will not negotiate; we will shoot you on site".
One of the detained journalists, Joel Konopo, declared in a statement to the OCCRP:
"President Khama’s government is increasingly becoming hostile to free press and in our view this kind of intimidation will not deter us from holding him accountable [...]The public has a right to know how tax payers' money is being used and we were trying to do just that".
On 19th April 2017, the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions announced that it was planning nationwide demonstrations at the end of every month to protest the government's failure to recognise and respect the Public Service Bargaining Council. The plan to protest arose over the Federation's accusations that the government was adjusting public service employees' salaries without following the Bargaining Council's processes. The Federation also indicated that they would mobilise embassies in Botswana as well as the international media to ensure that the protests would receive wide coverage and attention.
Civic Space Developments