Protection of Information Bill 'can be narrowed'

It is possible to fix the proposed Protection of Information Bill in a way that would ensure that all rights are recognised as stated in the Constitution, said South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) council member Nic Dawes on Wednesday.

“My view, that of Sanef and the campaign Right2Know (R2K) is that this Bill can be narrowed in a way that it protects state security matters, but does not criminalise disclosure of information that is in the public interest,” Dawes said during a debate on freedom of expression in the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg.

“The risks are too high if this Bill is implemented as it is now; I wouldn’t want to be part of the media that turns away from its democratic role,” he said.

He also said the media needed to be more accountable, although it was currently accountable to the press ombudsman, courts, human rights commission and the readers’ needs.

Dawes said transformation was another critical issue within the media industry.

He said it was impossible to produce quality material, whether it was in a newspaper or a broadcast, with an untransformed newsroom.—Sapa

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