Editors appeal to ANC over tribunal

2010-08-08 19:18

Johannesburg - Editors of major newspapers in South Africa have launched a campaign to fight what they called attempts to curtail freedom of expression and the free flow of information.

In a declaration published in a Sunday newspaper, 36 print editors said they were "deeply concerned" about proposed new legislation and a media tribunal.

"We vigorously oppose the restrictive clauses in the Protection of Information Bill and the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT)."

In the declaration, called The Auckland Park declaration, they appealed to the government and the ruling ANC "to abide by the founding principles of our democracy and to abandon these proposed measures".

They said freedom of expression and access to information were the "lifeblood" of the South African democracy and that the media was "at the very heart of the struggle for freedom".

This comes as the ANC prepare to meet with the media on Tuesday in Sandton to discuss, amongst others, the tribunal.

According to a resolution taken at the ANC's 52nd National Congress in 2007 in Polokwane, the establishment of a Media Appeals Tribunal should be investigated.

The resolution endorsed "that such investigation be directed at examining the principle of a MAT and the associated modalities for implementation".

"Conference notes that the creation of a MAT would strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions (Press Ombudsman/Press Council) in the public interest."