MISA Namibia has called for the withdrawal of the Research, Science and Technology Act as it has the potential to stifle freedom of expression, particularly the undertaking of independent research.
In a statement released Thursday, MISA said it is concerned about the potential impact of the Act and its regulations.
MISA said: "Democracy and the development of any country is dependent on critical thinking by individual citizens and think tanks engaging in research, and no measures should be enacted that will stifle, restrict or obstruct that. Requiring government permission for all research is in breach of the Constitution."
It added that the excessive government control envisaged would be contrary to the Act's stated objectives of promoting research and encouraging innovative and independent thinking.
MISA therefore called on the Minister of Education to urgently withdraw the regulations and to commit to a comprehensive review of the Act, in consultation with key stakeholders including civil society and the media industry.
In 2004, Parliament passed the new Research, Science and Technology Act, which came into force on 10 November 2011. The regulations associated with the Act also came into force in November last year.
Nangof, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) recently raised their concerns about the Act and its regulations arguing that they contradicted the Constitution of Namibia in several key respects and were likely to stifle freedom of expression and in particular the undertaking of independent research.
Of particular concern to MISA is the the definition of 'research' in the Act which it says is extremely broad. "This [ definitation] could conceivably apply to a High School student undertaking a homework project and, indeed, many forms of investigative journalism.