The Law Society of Botswana has learnt with shock and trepidation of the arrest of Attorney Joao Salbany of the Law firm Bayford and Associates this morning.
Information received as at now is that Mr Salbarny was since yesterday engaged with officers of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in defence of his clients the Gazette Newspaper. His engagement was apparently in relation to an attempt by the DCEC to effect an arrest of a Journalist for the newspaper as well as to take possession of certain property including IT equipment.
It is as part of this on-going legal engagement that the Attorney was arrested and is detained at a Botswana Police Station ostensibly on a charge of obstructing the officers in their investigations. Since his arrest he has been denied access to his legal representatives.
In the absence of some compelling reason(s), the arrest of an attorney during the discharge of his duties is an affront to the Constitution and the very basic tenets of Democracy and the Rule of Law. The arrest runs afoul of enshrined Constitutional rights of the Gazette Newspaper and the Journalist to legal representation and to adequately prepare a defence and similarly an affront to the attorney’s Constitutional rights to protect the rights of his clients.
The arrest brings once again into sharp focus the culture of impunity that the Society alluded to at the Opening of the Legal Year in 2015. It further brings into question the country’s so oft spoken credentials on the Rule of Law.
The Law Society is keenly watching this matter and in this regard will if necessary engage an attorney to protect the interests of its member and indeed those of the legal profession as a whole.
This statement is issued pursuant to Resolution of Council of the Law Society of Botswana dated 7th May 2015.
Law Society of Botswana