Info bill: ANC accused of not doing enough

2011-06-25 14:45
Johannesburg - Concessions made by the ANC in respect of the protection of information bill did not go far enough to address the real concerns raised about the bill, the IFP said on Saturday.

The three real concerns remained unaddressed, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokesperson Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said in a statement.

"Concessions need to be made to the cause of democracy by making provision for a public interest defence which enables people releasing information in the public interest not to be jailed for up to 20 years."

It was also important to eliminate the provisions which make the minister of intelligence responsible for the implementation of the secrecy law for each department to which it applies when these departments were not part of the intelligence apparatus, he said.

"The concessions made [on Friday] by the African National Congress reduce the scope of application of the bill, the legislation will nonetheless apply by duty or by option to departments other than the intelligence apparatus which requires what has become known as the ‘stasi provision’ to be repealed," Oriani-Ambrosini said.

The ANC bowed to pressure by activists, academics, journalists and former ministers by scrapping three clauses in the bill to bring the legislation in line with the Constitution.

It agreed to scrap mandatory prison sentences for possessing and publishing secret information and to limit the power to classify to state security bodies.

It had previously sought to extend this power to all 1 001 existing organs of state, prompting fears of a return to apartheid-era state secrecy and an onslaught on media freedom.

The ANC also agreed to appoint a retired judge to hear any appeal to a refusal for access to classified information. Previously it placed this power with the state security minister.

Read more on:    anc  |  ifp  |  info bill  |  media

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