South African Parliament to Resume Work on POIB

17 January 2011

A committee of the South African parliament on Feb. 18 will continue its deliberations on the proposed Protection of Information Bill.

Despite the deletion of some controversial provisions, the opposition led by The Right2Know Campaign is seeking further changes to the bill proposed by the government.

One continuing concern is the breadth of the definition of “national security,” which can be used to justify nondisclosure of information. “Nor have they limited the scope of the bill to core state bodies in the security sector,” according to a statement by the Right2Know Campaign.

 “The bill still criminalizes the legitimate disclosure of secrets in the public interest and applies extreme penalties for any unauthorized disclosure to society at large,” the statement also says.

 The Right2Know Campaign also is seeking the creation of an independent body appointed by Parliament to be the arbiter of decisions about what may be classified as secret.  The bill now sends appeals to the Minister of State Security.

 Before recessing its deliberations, the Parliamentary Committee made some changes considered to be improvements by critics, including the removal of references to commercial information. (See previous report.)

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