Freedom of expression vital for poor – judge

2012-01-30 14:24

Freedom of expression and access to information are vitally important in countries where poverty exists, a Swedish supreme court judge said in Cape Town.
Goran Lambertz said during a discussion on the Protection of State Information Bill today that giving people the freedom to access information created a culture of honesty and prevented corruption.

“The issue of freedom of expression and access to information is so important to any country where there is poverty,” he said.

“It is a matter of promoting honesty and preventing unjust enrichment in a country ... Therefore, this is so important.”

Lambertz said the small number of poor people in Sweden were not nearly as good in fighting for their rights as a lot of South Africans were.

“You have a good tradition in that,” he said.

Lambertz said penalising people for possessing information was “difficult”.

A journalist’s job was to spend large amounts of time wading through large amounts of information, he said.

“That is what a journalist does every day. He needs to take a decision to publish or not. Penalising people because they possess information that is classified is difficult.”

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