Gaborone, Botswana – On Tuesday, the Lobatse High Court will hear a case where the Attorney General seeks to interdict the Sunday Standard from publishing information relating to investigations by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crimes. The case concerns the constitutionality of section 44 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act, which provides that any person who without lawful authority or reasonable excuse publishes details of an investigation, shall be guilty of an offence. The respondents are seeking a declaration that section 44 infringes the right to freedom of expression to the extent that it curtails the public’s freedom to receive ideas and information without interference.
When: 10 October 2017
Where: High Court in Lobatse before Leburu J
What: Attorney General v Tsodilo Services (Pty) Ltd t/a The Sunday Standard and Outsa Mokone (Media Institute of Southern Africa-Botswana as amicus curiae)
MISA-Botswana joined the proceedings as amicus curiae in its role as an advocate for the protection of media freedom and freedom of expression. The media plays an important role in fostering transparency and accountability in a democracy. MISA-Botswana is concerned that section 44 has a chilling effect on the practice of journalism and submits that it is important that the media is able to report on the conduct of government officials where it is in the public interest to do so. MISA-Botswana submits that the prohibition on publishing information of DCEC investigations is an unjustifiable limitation of the right to freedom of expression and can only be cured if a “public interest defence” is read into the phrase “without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.”
MISA-Botswana is represented by Tshiamo Rantao and supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.