Government clamps down on freedom of speech; academic to be expelled

February 23, 2005

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Kenneth Good, professor of political science studies at the University of Botswana for 15 years, has been ordered to leave Botswana. Late last Friday three men arrived at his home with handcuffs to inform him he had been declared a prohibited immigrant and had 48 hours to leave the country. Professor Good's legal team went to the high court on Saturday and obtained a stay of execution from a judge, who ordered him to appear before the court on 7 March. Duma Boko, an attorney on Good's legal team, has received a death threat, reportedly from Botswana's intelligence service. Dr Boko is a well-known human rights attorney who is acting for the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari, whose case against the government for evicting them from their land is being heard in the high court now.

Professor Good is due to present a paper he co-authored entitled 'Presidential succession in Botswana: no model for Africa' at the university today. The paper is a critique of what the authors see as growing autocracy in the so-called 'model for Africa'. It is believed the paper may have been leaked to the president, who then ordered the deportation.

Professor Good is a noted academic who has not shied away from commentating on controversial government polices. He has written about the evictions of the Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and questioned Botswana's reputation as Africa's 'shining light of democracy'. Stephen Corry, director of Survival, said today, 'This is a dark day for democracy in Botswana. The country's international reputation can only be further tarnished by this blatant attempt to restrict the freedom of speech of a well-respected, independent academic. Those who still believe that Botswana is a beacon of democracy on the continent must surely question this government, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian and intolerant of any dissent or criticism.'

For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]