Possible info bill defence welcomed

2011-11-10 18:35

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - The possible inclusion of a public interest defence in the Protection of State Information Bill was welcomed by the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and the Right2Know Campaign on Wednesday.

"We look forward to further progress in ensuring that this bill is a democratic instrument for the management of sensitive information, rather than a tool to suppress the free exchange of information and ideas that is central to our constitutional dispensation," Sanef chair Mondli Makhanya said.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe discussed the controversial bill with Parliament's Press Gallery Association on Tuesday.

Motlanthe suggested there could be a "meeting point" on a public interest defence, as the talks with Sanef had produced a clear understanding that it would in always be up to the courts to decide whether it applied in a particular case.

He sought to assure journalists the bill would not be "rammed through" Parliament.

Makhanya said Sanef and others had submitted to Parliament arguments that a public interest defence clause would not place journalists above the law.

It would "set out carefully defined grounds for disclosure of classified information" in certain circumstances. These circumstances included situations where evidence of significant incompetence, criminality, wrongdoing, abuse of authority or hypocrisy on the part of government officials was revealed.

"Of course it would be up to our courts to adjudicate whether disclosure by journalists or other citizens met these clear standards, or not," Makhanya said.

Comments welcomed

The Right 2 Know Campaign also welcomed Motlanthe's comments, saying a public interest defence was crucial to afford protection to those who exposed state secrets in the interest of social justice.

"We view this as an encouraging sign that dialogue is still possible to ensure that the constitutional imperative of access to information is not undermined," it said in a statement.

The pressure group added, however, that there were structural problems with the bill that went far beyond the present lack of a public interest defence.

"It is crucial that we have further dialogue over the potential for the current draft of the Secrecy Bill to create an overall chilling effect for access to information and freedom of expression."

The ANC previously rejected calls for the inclusion of a public interest defence clause in the bill. As the bill stands, disclosing classified information is a crime punishable with prison sentences ranging from five to 25 years, depending on the level of classification and whether espionage is involved.

The bill was scheduled for debate in the National Assembly in September, but was temporarily withdrawn from the parliamentary programme at the last minute.

- SAPA

Read more on:    sanef  |  right2know  |  johannesburg  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 20:17 PM
    Road name: MetroRail
    Due to extensive vandalism on the Central Line a limited Bus Service will operate between Nyanga/Chris Hani and Nyanga/Kapteinsklip - EXPECT DELAYS
  • Wednesday Montague Gardens - 19:58 PM
    Road name: Montague Drive
    ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - expect DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

DStv Walka Handheld TV

The Walka Handheld TV is a slim, lightweight device with...

From R199.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.