Protest planned against media gags

2010-09-14 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG-BASED media freedom pressure group, the Concerned Media Scholars’ Association (CMSA), will stage a silent protest tomorrow against the proposed introduction of a media appeals tribunal and the Protection of Information Bill.

CMSA convenor and University of KZN (UKZN) head of media and cultural studies Nicola Jones said the demonstration, to be held along Alan Paton Avenue (formerly Durban Road) from noon, is meant to draw public attention to the dangerous nature of the legislation, “as well as the far-reaching implications that stem from such an attack on freedom of speech.”

The CMSA was established recently as a pressure group of lecturers and students from different institutions of higher education around Pietermaritzburg in the wake of the debate around the proposed introduction of the measures.

Jones said, “The association agrees that occasionally legitimate grounds exist for protecting certain information. But this should be the exception and not routine. Disclosure of sensitive information must be tolerated in a democracy because secrecy — a lack of accountability, abuse of power, infringements of human rights and a culture of impunity — can imperil the democratic process. Citizens need information with which to make good choices.”

Protesters will hold placards with messages condemning the proposed measures and supporting freedom of speech.

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