Amend info bill, urges Catholic Church

2012-01-19 14:04
Cape Town - The Roman Catholic Church has urged the National Council of Provinces to amend the protection of state information bill "to bring it in line" with the Constitution.

The church has hung a banner on the front facade of St Mary’s Cathedral, facing Parliament, protesting the possible passing of the bill.

Speaking at a special ceremony to "bless" the banner on Thursday, Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev Stephen Brislin, said South Africans were morally justified in opposing the bill because it did not serve the common good.

"We, the Catholic Church in Cape Town, strongly appeal to the National Council of Provinces to amend the protection of state information bill (PSIB) in such a way as to bring it in line with our constitutional right to freedom of information," he said.

Right to information

As it stood, the bill undermined the right to information, which right was vital for the full exercise of numerous other human rights, and violated the Constitution's commitment to open and transparent government.

"The bill comprehensively protects the state security agency from public scrutiny because it allows the agency itself to decide what it wishes to be kept secret," Brislin said.

Any illegal activity by the agency could, therefore, easily be hidden from scrutiny and from the legal process.

Furthermore, the bill gave the minister of state security too much power and allowed the minister to extend the right to classify information to virtually any state body, thereby increasing the chance that illegal activities would be hidden in the name of state security.

Although various changes had been made to the bill since it was first proposed, a major weakness was that no provisions had been made for a public interest defence and for the disclosure of supposedly secret information about which the public had a right to know.

Moreover, severe punitive action could be taken against whistleblowers and journalists if they were in possession of, or published material, deemed classified information, even if it was within the public's interest to know about it.

Existing legislation which protected whistleblowers was not nearly sufficiently strong to withstand the PSIB.

'Moral imperative'


Many religious leaders and NGO's, such as the Right2Know campaign, had protested against the bill.

"As the Catholic Church in Cape Town, we have the duty to continue opposing this bill, not only as members of civil society, but also because there is a moral imperative to serve the common good.

"This bill does not serve the interests of the nation and can be used to damage our democracy and lead us on the road, once again, to a security state," Brislin said.

The bill was approved by the National Assembly in November and sent to the NCOP for concurrence.

The NCOP has set up a special ad hoc committee to deal with the bill and is planning further public hearings in various provinces.

The hearings are to start in February and the committee has to report to the council by April 8.

- SAPA
Read more on:    catholic church  |  cape town  |  media  |  legislation  |  info bill
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
14 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy 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

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...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.