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Right2Know welcomes ANC's Info Bill concessions

Staff Reporter

The Right2Know campaign welcomed the ANC's concessions on the Protection of Information Bill, the rights campaign said on Saturday.

The Right2Know campaign welcomed the ANC’s concessions on the Protection of Information Bill, the rights campaign said on Saturday.

The African National Congress’s concessions on Friday was a sign that there was a commitment to begin the “mammoth task” of fixing the bill, Right2Know said in a statement.

“It is a first, but important step, which may signal a willingness by democrats within parliament and government to push back against an apparent grab for power by securocrats within the state.”

It said this would have been impossible without the voice of ordinary South Africans who had led the struggle for the Right2Know campaign over the past year.

Right2Know also welcomed MPs’ remarks that the ANC was committed to ensuring the constitutionality of each clause of the Bill.

“We view this as a first step in the right direction; there is much work to be done if the bill is to be rid of its draconian secrecy clauses.”

On Friday the ANC bowed to pressure by activists, academics, journalists and former ministers by scrapping three clauses in the Bill to bring the legislation in line with the Constitution.

It agreed to scrap mandatory prison sentences for possessing and publishing secret information and to limit the power to classify to state security bodies.

It had previously sought to extend this power to all 1 001 existing organs of state, prompting fears of a return to apartheid-era state secrecy and an onslaught on media freedom.

The ANC also agreed to appoint a retired judge to hear any appeal to a refusal for access to classified information. Previously it placed this power with the state security minister.—Sapa

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