Committee in Final Days on South African Secrecy Bill

20 September 2012

Negotiations are entering the final stages as the South African National Council of Provinces Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill continues to work on the the bill.

Critics last week charged, however, that the ruling African National Congress backtracked on several promised modifications to the “secrecy bill.”

The Committee Secretariat prepared a two-page summary of the outstanding issues, according to the detailed reports on the meetings Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 by the  Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).

“The ANC, despite having indicated in an earlier meeting that it would propose a new definition for espionage, had decided not to proceed with that,” the PMG reported about the Sept. 18 meeting.

The Democratic Alliance charged that the ANC was reneging on a pledge to remove the phrase “ought reasonably to have known” in relation to this offence, a minimum jail sentence of 15 years. “They are certainly back-tracking on espionage,” DA MP Alf Lees said.

Opponents of the bill also objected to a weakening on protections for whistleblowers, according to a statement Sept. 12 by the Right2Know Campaign.

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