Stop the Secrecy Bill !

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Last Tuesday State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said South African citizens who opposed the draft Protection of Information Bill were being funded by foreign spies intent on stealing sensitive information held by the state.

“You won’t find foreign spies openly marching in the streets of Cape Town, complaining that we are removing their easy access to our sensitive information, but they will fund their local proxies to defend their illegality.” [0]

Clearly the Minister is suffering from idiocracy syndrome. PENTON Independent Pagan Media is a signatory supporter of the Right2Know campaign, and neither its editor nor its bloggers are funded by any foreign spies.

The Right2Know Campaign, supported by over 400 organisations, including the South African National Editors’ Forum, have asked for the inclusion of a public-interest defence clause which would enable journalists and whistle-blowers who disclosed classified information “to enter a defence plea of publication in the public interest.” [1] SANEF has threatened legal action if a public-interest defence clause is left out of the Protection of State Information Bill.

Members of the National Assembly will vote on the Protection of State Information Bill today (Tuesday 22 November) at 2pm.

Yusuf Abramjee, chairman of the National Press Club has appealed to South Africans to wear black on Tuesday as a sign of protest.

“The proposed law is going to affect all South Africans and we all need to stand up now,” “This bill does not only affect the media – civil society at large needs to raise its voice now.” Abramjee noted that the Right2Know Campaign was planning a series of countrywide pickets on Tuesday. “It’s time for action now,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and let these laws be passed.” Seems people are listening, as Abramjee said that – even given the short notice – the response to the Black Tuesday protest has been phenomenal. “Thousands of people have said they will take part,” he said. Abramjee added: “I am also calling on editors and journalists, time permitting, to be in Parliament on Tuesday when the vote takes place, to show the parliamentarians we are sincere.” [2]

If the bill is passed anyone publishing information classified as “in the interest of national security”, including journalists and whistle-blowers, could face a 25-year jail sentence.

“A responsive and accountable democracy that can meet the basic needs of our people is built upon transparency and the free flow of information. The gains of South Africans’ struggle for freedom are threatened by the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) currently before Parliament. We accept the need to replace apartheid-era secrecy legislation. However, this Bill extends the veil of secrecy in a manner reminiscent of that same apartheid past. This Bill fundamentally undermines the struggle for whistleblower protection and access to information. It is one of a number of proposed measures which could have the combined effect of fundamentally undermining the right to access information and the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.” [3]

Stop the Secrecy Bill! Let the truth be told!

Endorse the Right2Know campaign today !

References:

[0] State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele has claimed that “foreign spies” are paying dozens of civil society groups to oppose the ANC’s new secrecy law.
http://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2011/11/17/covert-fight-against-info-bill

[1] Editors’ forum threatens action over state information bill
http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=159022

[2] Black Tuesday protest declared against “Secrecy Bill”
http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2011-11-21-black-tuesday-protest-declared-against-secrecy-bill

BLACK TUESDAY: Wear black against info bill
http://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2011/11/20/black-tuesday-wear-black-against-info-bill

[3] Right2Know Campaign
http://www.r2k.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90&Itemid=58

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1 Response

  1. Talita Matlock says:

    We can only hope that south africa does not end up like some of our neighbours…

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