Open Justice and Broadcasting of Legal Proceedings in Botswana: The Need for Reform

Badala Tachilisa Balule

Abstract


The principle of open justice is a central tenet of the administration of justice
in Botswana. Open justice requires that, as a general rule, courts of law
must conduct their business publicly unless this could result in injustice. The
principle is a safeguard against judicial bias, incompetence and unfairness and
ensures that judges are accountable in the execution of their judicial functions.
There is a special connection between the principle of open justice and media
coverage of court proceedings. Open justice ensures that justice is open to
public scrutiny and the media are a medium through which the majority of the
public receive information about court proceedings. Media coverage of legal
proceedings does not only promote open justice, but it is also an exercise of the
constitutionally guaranteed right to media freedom. This paper examines the
issue of the live broadcast coverage of judicial proceedings in Botswana with
a view of establishing whether the practice of the courts is consistent with the
constitutional principles.


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