The privately-owned press is relatively free, but the same cannot be said for the state-owned news media, which are often required to change their programming to suit the authorities. Self-censorship is the rule.

A draft press law unveiled in November 2001 was rejected outright by Botswana's journalists and press freedom organisations. Journalists reaffirmed their commitment to press freedom and publicly voiced their opposition to the bill throughout 2002. The authorities did not want to rush things, so tress law unveiled in November 2001 was rejected outright by Botswana's journalists and press freedom orgahe bill had still not been adopted at the end of the year. Instead, a press council was set up in November as a self-regulating mechanism for receiving public complaints about Botswana's news media.

Three journalists physically attacked

Stryker Motlaloso, news editor of the weekly Mmegi, was assaulted on 19 May 2002 by an official of the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF). Motlaloso was covering a BNF meeting when one of its representatives approached him and accused him of reporting the party's activities negatively. The journalist was punched in the eye and threatened with a knife.

Moreri Moroka, a reporter with the bi-weekly Mokgosi, and Moreri Sejakgomo, a photographer with the same publication, were covering a demonstration on the University of Botswana campus on 5 December when students threw stones at them.

A journalist threatened

Alice Banda, a journalist with the weekly The Voice, claimed on 17 October 2002 to have received more than a dozen anonymous phone calls threatening her with death after she wrote an article on the illegal abortions practised out by doctors in Francistown (in the northeast of the country). The police agreed to give her protection.

Pressure and obstruction

On 22 April 2002, Radio Botswana cancelled an edition of its live programme "Live-Line" that was to discussed the news coverage provided by the state-owned news media. The participants were to have included the director of the Botswana branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), which defends press freedom.

In early May, the minister of presidential affairs, Daniel Kwelagobe, publicly criticized the state-owned Botswana Television (BTV) for having aired remarks by an opposition party leader that "denigrated the person of President Festus Mogae." He said BTV should have edited the "insults" out of their report and he urged journalists with the state-owned news media to "sanitize what they give to the public."

A libel suit was filed against Gabz FM, a privately-owned radio station, on 4 July by Botsalo Ntuane, the executive secretary of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), demanding 1.7 million pulas (about 300,000 euros) in damages because the station had reported the previous month that he had threatened a Radio Botswana journalist and because listeners then telephoned Gabz FM to comment on the report on the air and to discuss harassment of journalists working for the state-owned news media.


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