South African Committee to Seek Extension of Time

28 January 2011

The South African parliamentary committee working on the controversial Protection of Information Bill will seek more time to work on the legislation, its chairman said this week.

Chairman Cecil Burgess said he would ask for an extension of the Jan. 28 deadline.

Debate continued in committee Jan. 26 with no amendments being made. The committee resumed its deliberations in mid-January. (See previous Freedominfo.org report.)

One topic of contention is whether the bill, as written, applies to all government agencies. The Institute for Democracy in Africa submitted a list of 1,001 bodies to which the information security bill would apply, including the Johannesburg Zoo.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance Jan 25 asked the committee to limit the application of the “secrecy bill” to only government departments concerned with security and intelligence.

The Protection of Information Bill seeks to create a new regime for the classification of state information and provides for substantial prison sentences for those who disclose classified information illegally.

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