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Protection of Information Bill

Protection of Information Bill

  • R2K Welcomes Secrecy Bill Extension

    The Right2Know campaign welcomes the announcement that the ANC Parliamentary caucus intends to extend the deadline on the Protection of Information Bill to 23 September 2011. It is clear that mounting public pressure has forced those behind the Bill to revise their position.

    What remains to be seen is whether this extension will be coupled with a renewed spirit of openness, precision and proper deliberation on the demands made by civil society and communities across the country. The real test of parliamentarians’ commitment to protecting and advancing information rights will be their engagement with the Right2Know’s seven demands.

    There is an enormous amount of work to be done to bring the Bill in line with the principles of transparent and open democracy. It remains to be seen if our MPs have discovered the political will to do that work.

    The Right2Know campaign continues to build the civil society coalition of over 400 organisations behind these demands. To date, nearly 20,000 people have joined the campaign as individuals. If parliamentarians cannot bring the Secrecy Bill in line with these demands, the Bill must be withdrawn and redrafted from scratch, with proper and meaningful public participation.

    On Friday 24 June, the day the Secrecy Bill would have been finalised, Right2Know will be picketing the Ministry of State Security in Gauteng.

    For comment please contact:

    Murray Hunter
    National coordinator
    072 672 5468    

    Sithembile Mbete
    R2K Western Cape
    083 686 2554     

    Dale McKinley
    R2K Gauteng
    072 429 4086     

    Quinton Kippen
    R2K KwaZulu-Natal
    083 871 7549

    To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.

    Date published: 
    23/06/2011
    Organisation: 
    Right2Know Campaign
  • Negative Fallout of South African Secrecy Bill Could Affect Entire Continent

    If the South African Parliament pushes through the highly controversial Protection of Information Bill, the negative fallout in the region could be immense, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today.

    “We are witnessing a pervasive crackdown on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the African continent,” said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director at CIVICUS. “At present, South Africa remains an island of democracy. But if the draconian secrecy bill is passed, this will change and further encourage authoritarian leaders in the region to inhibit democratic freedoms.”

    The Protection of Information Bill is currently being discussed in committee by the South African Parliament. It contains a number of problematic provisions, establishing serious hurdles for the media and civil society to obtain information about official corruption mismanagement and government service delivery issues. The Bill gives government officials wide powers to prevent disclosure in the interests of “national security” which is broadly defined to cover a vast array of information.

    “Passage of the Bill will lead to increased opaqueness in the functioning of government departments, making it extremely difficult for citizens to identify bottlenecks in the official machinery, inhibiting their access to constitutional entitlements and services,” said Dale McKinley of the Right 2 Know Campaign. “South Africa has a constitutional commitment to ‘accountability, responsiveness and openness.’ This bill goes a long way in negating these values for which the struggle against apartheid was waged and upon which the edifice of South African democracy stands.”

    The Bill applies to all organs of the state, which includes national and provincial government departments, independent commissions, municipal and local councils and forums. It empowers the Minister of State Security to “prescribe broad categories and sub-categories” to classify information to prevent it from entering the public sphere. The heads of government departments are further empowered to put in place departmental policies, directives and categories for the purpose of classifying and declassifying information.

    The Bill also contains draconian punishments ranging up to 25 years in prison for a host of offences, including obtaining, possessing, intercepting and disclosing classified information. South African journalists and civil society activists are extremely anxious about their ability to pursue their quest for the truth in the future. Notably, the bill has no clause to protect the disclosure of information in the ‘public interest.’

    CIVICUS calls upon the South African Parliament to reject this “anti-people” bill in its totality. “It not only negates constitutional freedoms at home but also tarnishes South Africa’s reputation as a leading democracy and emerging voice of conscience from the global south,” said Belay.

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world. CIVICUS is part of the Right 2 Know Campaign, a coalition of people and organisations united in the struggle for the right to information and opposed to the Protection of Information Bill, which threatens hard won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression in South Africa.

    For more information contact:

    Mandeep Tiwana
    Policy Manager
    E-mail: mandeep.tiwana@civicus.org

    Megan MacGarry
    Project Coordinator, Every Human Has Rights
    E-mail: megan.macgarry@civicus.org

    For more about CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, refer to www.civicus.org.

    To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.
    Date published: 
    09/06/2011
    Organisation: 
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Stop the Secrecy Bill - Support the Right2Know Campaign

    The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) is a nation-wide coalition of people and organisations opposed to the Protection of Information Bill - also known as the Secrecy Bill - currently before the South African parliament. The Bill will threaten hard-won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression.



    R2K believes a responsive and accountable democracy able to meet the basic needs of our people is built on transparency and the free flow of information.

    The R2K campaign statement - “Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!” - demands that the Bill be drastically rewritten to bring it in line with constitutional values, or thrown out.

    The former Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, the Congress of South African Trade Unions; South African Municipal Workers Union, Federation of Unions of South Africa, Treatment Action Campaign/Section 27,  Council for the Advancement of the Constitution, Helen Suzman Foundation, the Muslim Judicial Council, Press Club, South African National Editor’s Forum, Western Cape Inter-faith Religious Leaders, among others, have expressed their opposition to the proposed Protection of Information Bill (POI) in recent days.

    Opposition to the POI Bill is gaining momentum. The next couple of weeks are crucial as the Ad-hoc Committee dealing with the POI has set an August 2011 deadline to finalise the Bill.

    Please sign the Right to Know Petition on www.r2k.org.za.
  • Stop the Secrecy Bill - Right to Know Gauteng Coalition Meeting

    Right2Know Campaign
    The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) is a nation-wide coalition of people and organisations opposed to the Protection of Information Bill - also known as the Secrecy Bill - currently before the South African parliament. The Bill will threaten hard-won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression.



    R2K believes a responsive and accountable democracy able to meet the basic needs of our people is built on transparency and the free flow of information. The R2K campaign statement – “Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!” – demands that the Bill be drastically rewritten to bring it in line with constitutional values, or thrown out.

    The former Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, the Congress of South African Trade Unions; South African Municipal Workers Union, Federation of Unions of South Africa, Treatment Action Campaign/Section 27,  Council for the Advancement of the Constitution, Helen Suzman Foundation, the Muslim Judicial Council, Press Club, South African National Editor’s Forum, Western Cape Inter-faith Religious Leaders, among others, have expressed their opposition to the proposed Protection of Information Bill (POI) in recent days.

    Opposition to the POI Bill is gaining momentum. The next couple of weeks are crucial as the Ad-hoc Committee dealing with the POI has set an August 2011 deadline to finalise the Bill.

    An urgent meeting to discuss civil society responses and actions will be held on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 (15h00), in Johannesburg.

    RSVP: coordinator@fxi.org.za by Tuesday, 7 June 2011, if you or a representative from your organisation will be able to attend.

    Please sign the Right to Know Petition on www.r2k.org.za.

    For more about the Right2Know Campaign, refer to www.r2k.org.za.

    Event start date: 
    08/06/2011
    Event end date: 
    08/06/2011
    Event venue: 
    Civicus, 24 Gwigwi Mrwebi Street, cnr. Quinn Street, Newtown, Johannesburg.
    Event type: 
    Workshop
  • The Secrecy Bill: Where to From Here?

    Right2Know Campaign
    The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) is a nation-wide coalition of people and organisations opposed to the Protection of Information Bill – also known as the Secrecy Bill – currently before the South African parliament. The Bill will threaten hard-won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression.

 R2K believes a responsive and accountable democracy able to meet the basic needs of our people is built on transparency and the free flow of information. The R2K campaign statement – “Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!” – demands that the Bill be drastically rewritten to bring it in line with constitutional values, or thrown out.

    Want to know more about the Secrecy Bill? Want to know what you can do about it?

    Join Right2Know for a public meeting on the Secrecy Bill on Tuesday, 7 June 2011 (17:30 for 18:00) in Cape Town.

    Chaired by Judith February of Idasa, speakers will include:
    • Pregs Govender, Deputy Chair, Human Rights Commission;
    • Zapiro (aka Jonathan Shapiro), political cartoonist;
    • Prakashnee Govender, COSATU;
    • Imam Rashied Omar, Western Cape Religious Leaders' Forum;
    • Pierre de Vos, Professor of Constitutional Law, UCT;
    • Dmitri Holtzman, Equal Education;
    RSVP: shireenr2k@gmail.com by Monday, 6 June 2011.

    Attendance is free, but places are limited.

    For more about the Right2Know Campaign, refer to www.r2k.org.za.

    Event start date: 
    07/06/2011
    Event venue: 
    Idasa, 6 Spin Street, Cape Town
    Event type: 
    Seminar
  • SANEF Rejects Call to Register Journalists

    The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) has objected to a call from MPs to have their profession legally defined in order for members to be exempted from the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Bill on the grounds that this will require registration of the media.

    SANEF’s Raymond Louw argues that registering journalists opened members of the profession to the threat of being deregistered, possibly for political reasons by a censorious government.

    Louw maintains that placing journalists on a register immediately poses the danger that as easily as they can be placed on a register, they can be removed from such a register and thus prevented from practicing as journalists. He further warns that such a move will constitute censorship and will contravene the Constitution.

    To read the article titled, “You don't license a free press: SANEF,” click here.

     

    Source: 
    Times Live
  • SA Editors Urge Citizens to Support Free Press

    South African editors are still opposing the African National Congress’ (ANC) proposed media appeals tribunal, the Protection of Information Bill and the Secrecy Act, which are currently before parliament.

    Noseweek editor, Martin Welz, is of the view that there has been some informed public reaction, adding that the hesitancy of the government to establish a media appeals tribunal is a result of ‘foreign pressure’.

    Meanwhile, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa commissioner, Robin Sewlal, maintains that the civil society needs to participate in the debate. Sewlal further says the important thing to bear in mind that it is difficult to have what he calls ‘informed society’ if certain information is classified.

    To read the article titled, “Editors urge public to back free press.” Click here.
    Source: 
    Times Live
  • Secrecy Bill Will Apply to Over 1 000 Institutions - Idasa

    The Institute for Democracy (Idasa) has taken a crack at the job the state law adviser said was too big for his office, counting 1001 ‘organs of state’ that will be affected by the Protection of Information Bill.

    Idasa head of political information and monitoring service, Judith February, says in a letter to the chairman of the ad hoc committee considering the draft bill, Cecil Burgess, that parliament should know the scope of legislation it supports.

    She argues: "We are of the view that it is crucial that every consideration be given to the scope/applicability of the proposed legislation. Given the extensive number of organs of state, we submit that parliament needs to be mindful of legislating without fully considering the impact of the draft legislation."

    To read the article titled, “Secrecy Bill would apply to over 1 000 institutions: Idasa,” click here.
    Source: 
    Times Live
  • Right2Know Campaign: What will the Secrecy Bill mean for community media?

    The Right2Know campaign will host a discussion on 26 November 2010 in Cape Town on the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill), which is sitting before Parliament. The Bill has been widely criticised for being unconstitutional and for threatening to create a ‘society of secrets’ in South Africa.

    The theme of the event is "What will the Secrecy Bill mean for community media?"

    Sithembile Mbete from IDASA will report back on the progress of the Bill in parliament and outline what still needs to be accomplished.

    Nwame Cedile of the Right2Know Campaign will explore how the Bill will affect citizens at community level, and what community organisations can do to make their voices heard on this issue.

    Shepi Mati, IDASA's radio unit manager, has produced a 12-minute radio programme on the Bill, to be distributed to radio organisations at the event.

    Refreshments will be served.

    RSVP: Murray Hunter, Tel: 021 461 7211 or right2knowsa@gmail.com
    Event start date: 
    26/11/2010
    Event venue: 
    Bush Radio, 330 Victoria Road, Salt River, Cape Town
    Event type: 
    Seminar
  • Govt Under Pressure to Approve Info Bill

    Parliament has run out of time to approve the controversial ‘secrecy bill’ this year and work will continue in the special ad hoc committee for the rest of this month.

    Chairperson of the ad hoc committee for the Protection of Information Bill, Cecil Burgess, points out that even if the committee was to agree on changes to the Bill, the timeframes of getting it before the National Assembly before Parliament rises next had expired.

    His words come against expressed fears that the bill will be rammed through during this session of Parliament.

    Meanwhile, Centre for Environmental Rights director, Melissa Fourie, states that, “As things stand, civil society organisations and communities already face enormous obstacles in gaining access to environmental information." Fourie is of the view that environmental rights guaranteed in the constitution can be realised only with access to information.

    To read the article titled, “Parliament running out of time to approve ‘secrecy bill,” click here.

    Source: 
    Business Day
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