Current Date: 28 May, 2024

Government Of Botswana Urged To End Its Undue Interference Of Civil Society Organizations Work

Efforts to interfere in civil society work can be precursors to worse human rights violations that would affect the civic space and also the democratic credibility of the country. While eroding the history of Botswana's positive engagement with civil society. 

Government Of Botswana Urged To End  Its Undue Interference Of Civil Society Organizations Work

A letter to Botswana's president read;

Dear President Mokgweetsi Masisi,

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, who work worldwide in promoting and defending the freedom of expression and information as fundamental rights, write to express our concern with the increasing threats to civic space and the effect this would have on Botswana's right to freedom of association and assembly, and also freedom of expression.

Botswana has been historically considered a stable democracy in the region. As a result, we are alarmed by reports that civil society organizations in Botswana could face interference in their work.

An officeholder of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party recently contested an influential position on the board of Botswana's chapter of The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

This appears to have potential government interference. The election saw a dramatic and sudden increase in membership a few weeks prior, with the payment of 600 membership subscriptions by an influential third party hoping that this would likely impact the vote.

Earlier this year, government authorities attempted to fast-track a new piece of legislation – the Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Controlled Investigation) Bill.

The Bill raised concerns about expanding the powers of the government to intercept private communications with no warrant or public oversight, thereby opening doors to privacy violations and increasing surveillance of trade unionists, journalists, and activists.

The Bill received criticism internationally for its draconian reach. However, it has since been amended to establish oversight of interception operations and outlaw the unauthorized interception of communications.

It came after the public outrage and sustained advocacy by a coalition of civil society organizations, including MISA.

These developments in Botswana show pockets of emerging threats to civic space.

A robust and healthy civic space is key to enduring democracy and stability for any country. It enables the fundamental rights to freedom ofassociation, assembly, and expression.

Thus, we urge the Botswana Government to uphold its national and international human rights obligations by providing an environment conducive to civic space per national and international human rights standards.

It Includes ensuring the freedom of civil society organizations to work independently without the fear of interference and having by either government officials or associates.

Excellence Chukwuma Chukwunaedu

Excellence Chukwuma Chukwunaedu

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