UPDATE 26 April 2013
On 25 April 2013, the day that civil society, religious groups and opposition parties had feared for three years came to pass. The controversial Protection of State Information Bill – dubbed the “Secrecy Bill” by opponents – passed easily after a vote in Parliament’s National Assembly. In an acrimonious plenary session beforehand, the ANC said the bill perfectly passed constitutional muster, while opposition politicians begged MPs to vote with their consciences and reject the bill.
UPDATE 15 April 2013 By Murray Hunter: Right2Know Campaign
THE Right2Know Campaign wishes to address recent comments in Parliament that seek to suggest that the outstanding problems with the Secrecy Bill are all but fixed.
Despite some welcome amendments during the National Council of Provinces deliberations, the bill has fallen far short of calls for a just and constitutional law that fulfils the basic requirements of openness and transparency.
The bill would still criminalise ordinary citizens for possession of classified information — even information already in the public domain. In other words, any ordinary citizen accessing a leaked document in the public domain could face jail penalties of between five and 25 years. Read more.
The Black Sash has joined the 'Right to Know' campaign, endorsing a statement against the proposed Protection of Information Bill currently before Parliament. Over 190 civil society organisations and 400 prominent individuals have joined the campaign, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; writer and painter Breyten Breytenbach; Nobel literature laureate Nadine Gordimer; writer Andre Brink and our own Black Sash Trustee Mary Burton.
The Bill aims to create a new framework of classification for state information. However, the Sash and other campaigners argue the Bill extends the veil of secrecy in a manner reminiscent of apartheid-era secrecy legislation.
- Read the full statement by the Right2Know campaign
- Read the Black Sash Media Statement on the Information Bill
- Read the easy guide to the Protection of Information Bill in the latest Webber Wentzel newsletter
For up-to-date information about the campaign, please go to: