‘Struggle for bill not over’

2011-06-25 07:46

The Protection of Information Bill should be entirely scrapped or re-worked to reflect “pre-2008 thinking”, the Southern African Freelancers’ Association (Safrea) said today.

“Safrea views the latest response by government as no more than an initial step in the right direction,” spokesperson Helen Ueckermann said in a statement.

“We believe that more needs to be done than the scrapping of the three clauses that government has proposed.”

The ANC bowed to pressure by activists, academics, journalists and former ministers yesterday 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.

Ueckermann said that these concessions were not enough, as free access to information, especially that relating to government, was the foundation upon which a free media and society was built.

Safrea recommended that the bill not curtail media freedom in the least.

MP Llewellyn Landers, who has led the ANC’s arguments in the committee drafting the bill, spelled out the ANC’s revised position a day after Parliament extended the deadline for the completion of the bill by three months to September 23.

He told reporters there had been growing unease about the bill within the ANC in recent weeks.

In a statement, the ANC said the proposed changes would help meet the “difficult and competing demands of national security within a rights-based, constitutional democracy such as ours”.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.