Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union (BOMAWU) have strongly condemned the attack on journalists by police.
In a statement issued by the union’s Secretary General, Victor Baatweng BOMAU said that they learnt with shock of an incident that happened at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) on the morning of Wednesday 18 April 2018 in which private media practitioners were harassed by the Police and other security agents.
Baatweng stated that the incident which happened during the arrival of the national heroes/heroines who had travelled to represent the country in Australia was such a shame as the police shockingly pushed away photo journalists who were assigned to cover the event.
“The insensitive and impolite police officers at the airport told reporters that they had strict orders that only state media should be allowed in. We strongly condemn both the Police and the authorities who gave such orders.”
The BOMAU SG further said that the union also wishes to note that history of the relationship between photo journalists and the Police, precisely those at the airport is replete with heavy- handedness and cover-up on the part of the security agents.
“As a trade union for media workers in Botswana, which advocates for ethical adherence and professionalism in the media industry as well as advancement of media freedom and freedom of expression in general, BOMAWU is utterly disturbed by the Wednesday incident as it violates the very foundation of a free media,” said Baatweng.
BOMAU through the statement extend the solidarity gesture to the affected journalists and encouraged them to continue with their noble role of informing the public without fear but reporting fairly and professionally as they have always done.
“BOMAWU wish to state that it has been observing disturbing incidents in which journalists are threatened or intimated when they try to do their job as witnessed in an ongoing case in which the editor of Sunday Standard newspaper, Outsa Mokone recently had his sedition charges re-instated while a senior reporter of the same paper has also fled the country in fear of losing his life to the security agents,” the statement noted.
Baatweng said that as a result, the union also reminds the powers that be that the guarantors of a free media across the world is well documented through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 19 and progressive constitutions of many countries, including Botswana.