15 November 2012

South Africa: Camp-Out for Openness With Right2know

The Right2Know Campaign will be Camping Out for Openness, outside Parliament, day and night, from Monday, 19 November to demand that MPs act to defend our democracy. The organisation calls on all freedom-loving South Africans to join it.

Following the absence of opposition politicians at the meeting of the National Council of Provinces ad hoc committee yesterday, Wednesday 14 November, the Secrecy Bill's passage into law has been further postponed.

The organisation call on the ruling ANC's members of the NCOP to consider the letter and spirit of the Constitution and resist the pressures applied by the Department of State Security. It calls on the NCOP's ad hoc committee as well as the NCOP Council to fully engage with the submissions made by Right2Know Campaign, COSATU, LRC and other progressive organisations, heed the voice of millions of South Africans and bring this Bill in line with our Constitution. The organisation futher demands that the widely held and well-articulated concerns of civil society organisations (supported by the opposition of millions of South Africans) be fully addressed before the Bill becomes law.

Currently, despite its many welcome amendments, the Bill is said to remain an affront to the Constitutional values that thousands of our citizens paid the ultimate price to secure and many more struggle valiantly to uphold today. Among its still considerable flaws is its lack of a public domain defence that makes spies out of ordinary citizens.

Right2Know says its lack of a public interest defence in specific respect to the Hostile Offences and Espionage leaves these clauses open to abuse by increasingly corrupt elements of our government. The Bill in short, makes secrecy the norm and openness the exception. It should be the other way round.

Demands of the people

Right2Know therefore supports the delay in finalising the Bill and call on ordinary South Africans to collectively demand that the Bill's finalisation be delayed until parliament fully engages with the demands of the people.

Right2Know activists around the country will be taking to the streets in the coming weeks as Parliament moves to pass the Secrecy Bill.

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