11 May 2012

South Africa: Secrecy Bill Amendments Don't Go Far Enough

press release

Yesterday the ANC proposed key amendments to the Protection of State Information Bill during the meeting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Ad Hoc Committee on the bill.

In particular, the Democratic Alliance welcomes the amendments which propose that journalists and whistle blowers be protected from prosecution if they reveal information which discloses criminal activity, and that minimum sentences be eliminated.

However, the ANC's amendments still do not go far enough.

The DA remains concerned about areas of the bill such as:

  • The definition of "national security"; and
  • The sections pertaining to almost all offences, such as the possession and disclosure of classified information.
  • The DA will continue to push for a full public interest defence clause to be included in the bill, and for other necessary amendments to be made.
  • The committee's decision yesterday to extend its lifespan from May 17 to June 30 is another important victory. This follows the submission of a formal request by DA Leader in the NCOP Elza van Lingen to the Chairperson of the NCOP to have the reporting deadline extended.

If the appropriate amendments are to be made to the Bill so that it can be brought in line with our Constitution, the committee must be allowed sufficient time to deliberate.

Alf Lees, DA Member of the NCOP for Kwazulu Natal

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