MPs reconvene on amended info bill

2013-03-13 19:35
Info bill (Picture: Sapa)

Info bill (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - The National Assembly's ad hoc committee on the protection of state information bill will on Thursday hold the first of a series of meetings to consider far-reaching changes to the bill.

The amendments were made by a committee of the National Council of Provinces, which passed its final report on the bill in November.

Under parliamentary rule 207, the National Assembly's committee is restricted to adopting or rejecting these changes and may not propose new ones.

The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday praised changes made last year by NCOP lawmakers, notably a clause that seeks to protect those who reveal classified information to bring to light a crime.

It was one of raft of concessions made by ANC lawmakers, despite hawkish opposition from the ministry of state security.

These also included removing a clause that would have made the new legislation trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act, and giving the public protector and other chapter nine institutions the right to be in possession of classified information.

But DA MP Dene Smuts said it was regrettable that the NCOP did not see fit to change the bill's provision on espionage, which was strongly criticised by human rights veteran George Bizos.

"Espionage should be an offence based on intention, but negligence has been retained as a standard for liability," she said.

Smuts also criticised the NCOP for retaining provisions allowing for the classification of valuable information.

She said her party may propose that the committee ask President Jacob Zuma to refer the bill to the Constitutional Court before signing it.

The bill was introduced in 2010 and triggered an unprecedented outcry that forced the ruling party into a staged withdrawal from some of its most regressive provisions.

Read more on:    da  |  jacob zuma  |  dene smuts  |  media  |  legislation  |  info bill

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