Botswana's small and vibrant independent press is increasingly becoming the target for legal actions based on repressive colonial-era press laws, further eroding the country's reputation as a model democracy.

Journalists have been arrested and charged in contravention of the National Security Act for reporting on classified or confidential information, the Alarming Publication Act, which prohibits the publication of material that "may create panic or disturb public peace," and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime Act, which bars the publication of information relating to an ongoing criminal investigation. Government officials, eager to insulate themselves from unfavorable press coverage, brought sedition and defamation charges against independent journalists and their publications. Foreign journalists can be subject to deportation if it is determined that they have violated Botswana's media laws. Confrontational public statements by government officials, accusing the press of irresponsibility and a lack of professionalism, indicate that this trend toward repression will continue in the coming year.

A 10-percent tax on newspaper sales became effective in March, threatening the financial viability of privately owned newspapers which already pay significant taxes for printing requisites.

Although the government passed a mass media communications bill to pave the way for private broadcasting in Botswana, radio and television broadcasting remains under government control.

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