The Botswana Allied and Media Workers Union (BOMAWU) accused the leader of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Dithapelo Keorapetse, of posting a picture of a female journalist on social media in a clear attempt to intimidate her when reporting. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the public labelling of journalists.
Keorapetse posted personal pictures of the journalist, whose identity will not be disclosed in order to protect her privacy, and added abusive comments about her online.
Freedom of the press in Botswana has become increasingly threatened in recent weeks. In the run up to the next General Elections, some political leaders have increased their attacks on individual journalists and media outlets, even calling for the closure of two of them, the Sunday Standard and the Patriot on Sunday.
In a statement, BOMAWU denounced that “attacks on journalists took another twist this week when a female journalist was ridiculed and her pictures were posted on social media. This has caused panic among female journalists who are now afraid to do their work freely as they fear being insulted and ridiculed”.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “The attack on a female journalist is tantamount to cyberbullying and trolling. These acts of intimidation and harassment against female journalists are distasteful, malicious, and unacceptable. We must stop gender-based violence and condemn public and personal attacks on journalists. We reiterate our calls on all government and political leaders to respect journalists’ work. There will be no free and fair elections if journalists work under fear and in unsafe conditions".