Info bill approval condemned

2011-11-22 22:32
Cape Town - The National Assembly's approval of the protection of state information bill on Tuesday has drawn widespread condemnation.

The House approved the bill by 229 votes to 107, with two abstentions, after a division called by the opposition.

Earlier, a Democratic Alliance motion to delay the vote failed.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said the bill could impact negatively on basic human rights. The commission had a constitutional and legislative responsibility for the right of access to information.

The bill had to be aligned with the Promotion of Access to Information Act, to avoid moving back towards a culture of secrecy which had the potential to undermine democracy, it said.

Concern


The commission expressed concern over the impact of the bill on the rights of journalists and whistleblowers, who released information in the public interest and faced the prospect of lengthy imprisonment sentences in the absence of a public interest defence in the bill.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) noted with "deep regret" the decision.

"We call on President [Jacob] Zuma and the African National Congress to follow through on their pledge of a fully public and consultative process on this bill."

A side effect of the bill was that it had seen a trend of national, provincial and local institutions tending towards a culture of secrecy, it said.

The Right2Know Campaign said it was disappointed that ANC MPs had accepted the bill.

"In doing so they have betrayed the principles of open government and transparency that the ANC once stood for.

Low point in SA

"We have won the argument, if not this battle. The Right2Know Campaign will continue to challenge the secrecy bill up to the Constitutional Court," it said.

The Helen Suzman Foundation also expressed outrage at the passing of the bill.

"This marks a low point in South Africa’s transition to democracy.

"It represents a significant step backwards in the long walk to freedom to which so many South Africans have devoted their lives," it said.

The Constitution enshrined and protected the free flow of information between citizens, and from government to citizens.

This access to information was essential for accountable, transparent, and responsive government.

"This bill cannot credibly be described as in South Africa’s best interests. Instead, it is a case of political expediency triumphing over constitutional rights."

Dwindling democracy

It marked the beginning of policy being driven by a secretive and self-serving security cluster, the foundation said.

The United Association of SA (Uasa) said the bill's "steamrolling" through Parliament heralded nothing positive for South Africa's democracy.

The bill's approval spelled huge dangers for what was left of the already dwindling democracy in South Africa.

"It will become impossible to make informed decisions on, for instance, political matters like elections.

"If we are no longer informed about corruption and other wrongdoing by the state and politicians up to the highest positions in our government, how will it be possible to make an informed choice between parties?"

It would also serve as a major deterrent for whistleblowers for fear of being prosecuted should they divulge sensitive information, Uasa said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    sahrc  |  right2know  |  mma  |  uasa  |  legislation  |  info bill  |  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
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

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

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

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

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. 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

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...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.